One of the most common runners’ complaints is Shin splints (also known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS)). The word shin splints describes pain/discomfort that gets worse during running or exercise around the front of the lower shin. Shin splints are usually developed by overuse, and a registered physiotherapist will do a detailed assessment to diagnose shin splints and develop a treatment plan to resolve them.
Shin splints are painful and uncomfortable but here are a few tips to effectively manage them.
Shin splints are considered an overuse injury. In the short term, rest will help the pain, and it is advised to rest for a period of time before beginning to run again. Start with shorter, slower distances instead of jumping right back into long distances when you start running again. Start running once a week and work up to twice a week if you usually run 3 days a week.
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Place ice packs on your shins for a few minutes at a time. Icing will not treat your shin splints but will help effectively manage your pain after running.
Change up your workout routine
Adding resistance training to your workout routine can help reduce your pain by helping your muscles & tendons increase their capacity. Incorporating other types of aerobic exercise into your routine, like cycling, rowing, or the elliptical in place of running, can also help. Shin splints commonly come from the impact from running on hard or uneven surfaces. Replacing running with a different type of exercise once a week can help.
Stretching, warm-ups and cool-downs
Stretch your calves and shins before running to increase the flexibility in your legs. Warm-up before your workout to prepare your muscles and cool down at the end of it to help your muscles recover.
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Footwear & Orthotics
Think about how long you have had your running shoes. Good shoes are important as they act as shock absorbers every time your foot hits the ground. If the sole of the shoe is worn, shoes lose their shock absorption. Try a new pair of shoes with more cushioning and see how you get on.
Also, consider seeing a chiropodist for a pair of orthotics. Custom orthotics can help align and stabilize your foot and ankle, taking stress off of your lower leg. They can also be beneficial if you have flat feet.
Our physiotherapists at Triangle Physiotherapy can help resolve your shin splints and get you back to running or any other sport that you may love! Call us to book your assessment or book online here.
What exactly are shin splints? Are they treatable?Shin splints are a condition characterized by damage and inflammation of the connective tissue joining muscles to the inner shin bone (tibia). Shin splints are known by many different names such as: Medial Tibial Tenoperiostitus, MTSS, Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, Tenoperiostitus of the Shin, Inflammatory Shin Pain, Traction Periostitis, and Posterior Shin Splint Syndrome. Several muscles lie at the back of the lower leg, and are collectively known as the calf muscles. The tibialis posterior, flexor digitorum longus, flexor hallicus, and soleus are muscles that lie deep within the calf and attach to the inner border of the tibia. Connective tissues are responsible for attaching these muscles to the tibia known as the tenoperiosteum. Every time the calf contracts, it pulls on the tenoperiosteum. When the tension becomes forced too much or is repeated frequently, the damage is caused to the tenoperiosteum. The results are inflammation and pain. Shin splints can also occur in combination with other pathologies that cause shin pain such as compartment syndrome and tibial stress fractures. Patients who suffer from shin splints experience pain along the inner border of the shin. In other cases, the patient may experience an ache or stiffness along the inner aspect of the shin that increases with rest (typically and night or first thing in the morning). Areas of muscle tightness, thickening, or lumps may also be felt in the same area of pain.
There are several factors that predispose patients to shin splints:• Excessive training or exercise • Poor foot posture (especially in patients with flat feet) • Inappropriate footwear • Inadequate warm-up• Training on hard or inappropriate surfaces • Muscle weakness (especially in calve muscles) • Tightness in specific joints (such as ankle) • Tightness in specific muscles (calves especially) • Poor lower limb biomechanics • Poor training techniques or methods • Leg length differences • Poor balance • Being overweight • Deconditioning • Poor core stability Also read, Physiotherapy Clinic in Oakville Physiotherapy treatment for patients with shin splints is vital to speed up the healing process. Physiotherapy will ensure the most optimal outcome and reduce the likelihood of recurrence. Treatment may comprise of the following:
- Deep tissue massage
- Joint mobilization
- Dry needling
- PNF stretches
- Arch support taping
- The use of orthotics or shock-absorbing insoles
- Biomechanical correction
- Ice or heat treatment
- Exercises to improve flexibility, balance, strength, and core stability
- Activity modification advice
- Anti-inflammatory advice
- Footwear advice
- Weight loss advice where appropriate
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