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Shin Splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome)

What are Shin Splints?

Shin Splints is an umbrella term for shin pain. The most common cause of shin pain is Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, which is when the muscles, tendons and bone at the shin are not strong enough to withstand the load placed upon them. The pain is felt on the inside of the tibia (shin bone) during exercises and at rest in severe cases. It is generally caused by either training errors, for example a sudden increase in running volume or poor footwear or abnormal biomechanics due to poor running technique or muscle strength imbalances.

What can you do to prevent Shin Splints?

  • Good running trainers- designed for your foot type, with shock absorbing insoles may help.
  • Orthotics- It may also be that you require an arch support to correct foot position. These can be purchased over the counter or can be custom made by one of our podiatrists.
  • Sensible training load- Gradually increase your mileage and ensure you do not do two long runs on consecutive days
  • Muscle strengthening- we often find that long distance runners neglect strength work in the gym, believing the myth that running builds up leg strength when actually quite the opposite is true. There are important muscle groups that need specific strength work to ensure good running techniques. The Gluteals (Buttocks) are particularly important. Your therapist can show you which exercises will be the most benificial to you.

What should you do if you suffer from Shin Splints?

Rest for a few days until you have no pain walking or jogging. Gradually return to running starting at one minute intervals for 10 minutes and gradually increasing this. Ice your shins after you run (15mins every hour, be sure to protect your skin to prevent an ice burn). Stretch your calves, and other main muscle groups. Try the tips for preventing shin splints.

If your symptoms do not recover in 6 weeks, it is important to get a firm diagnosis and to rule out other conditions such as compartment syndrome or stress fracture.

What can the Blackberry Clinic do to help?

In the Blackberry Clinics experience most patients respond well to treatment with a physiotherapist or an osteopath. We may want to have a look at your feet and may want to running, to see if you have any biomechanical issues that need correcting. They will then be able to do manual therapy, massage and acupuncture to relieve the pain. You will be given a specific rehabilitation program aimed at addressing your tight muscles and muscle weaknesses. You will also be given education on the condition and advice about returning to running and how to prevent future episodes.