Shin pain or “shin splints” are used to describe lower leg pain that occurs either on the front outside part of the leg (anterior shin splints) or the inside of the leg (medial/posterior shin splints).
Its proper name is Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) and it is the bane of many
athletes and runners. It can often be described as “too much, too soon”, often having a dip at athletes who build up their training too quickly or who change the type of workout regime abruptly, for example switching from running on flat surfaces to sand or hills.
At Physio Fit, we love treating shin splints! As physiotherapists, we have extensive knowledge of the musculoskeletal system and use our expertise in hands on treatment and exercise prescription to ensure we rid these problems for the long term.
Your feet and ankles are a vital part of everyday movement and activity, and it is incredibly important to look after them. Feet, Heels and Ankles are all vulnerable to pain and injury and physiotherapy can act not only as a treatment for the post injury patient, but also as a preventative measure.
What else can cause Shin Pain?
Shin pain doesn’t always mean you have shin splints, and it could potentially be a sign of another problemCompartment Syndrome – a swelling of muscles within a closed compartment which creates pressure. Symptoms include leg pan, unusual nerve sensation and muscle weakness.Stress fracture – an incomplete crack in the bone. This is more serious than shin splints and can often be found with a definite spot of pain, rather than a generalised pain of shin splints.
What can we do about it?
In general, our process will be trying to reduce your pain as quickly as possible so that we can start to get you nice and strong again! To reduce your pain we can use a variety of different techniques including massage, dry needling and taping.
Once your pain is reduced we can get you back to moving well and strengthening the surrounding muscles to take the load off of the joint itself to give you great long term results!
Do I have to suffer forever?
One of the most frustrating things I hear every year at the start of footy season is ‘oh yeah I’ve got shin splints but I just deal with it because there’s nothing I can do to fix them’. When I hear this I think man this person has been given some seriously bad advice!!
Why do Shin Splints occur?
Too much load – it really can be as simple as that! I feel like a broken record when people ask me why they keep getting certain injuries but that’s because load is such an important factor when talking about frequently occurring injuries. If you start things slowly and gradually build them up over a period of time then realistically you have a much lower risk of injuries occurring. Shin splints like many other injuries, commonly occur when we get impatient and don’t want to wait for our body to adapt to be able to tolerate an increase in activity.
On top of this there are so many other factors that can contribute to that pesky shin pain starting again. From calf and hip strength, to footwear or the surface you run on, it can all have an effect. The good news is there’s plenty of ways to change up your training to help get rid of the pain!
How do I stop this from happening
There’s so many things we can do as physiotherapists and podiatrists to help you but there’s also many things you can do yourself too! First of all, making sure our calves are strong by doing plenty of strength exercises. Seriously, people often forget that their calves are a muscle that can and should be challenged like every other muscle (and I get it they don’t grow and get massive as easily as other muscles but they can still get strong!). While strength is the number one factor to work on, we must also ensure we are doing adequate stretching and release work (foam rolling or spikey ball) to keep those muscles nice and loose and ready for your next session!
The next most important thing is to not go from 0-100 in terms of your running or sports training. You’re going to have to take some time to build up your training and that is ok! What’s the point of rushing things if it just means you’re going to end up with shin pain and not being able to run anyway right?! Most people have heard of the old 10% rule, but the good news is that this has been updated through research allowing a slightly faster increase in mileage! So although 0-100 is too fast, most people can safely increase their running load by 20% (if running between 10-20km per week) to 30% (when covering less than 10km each week)!