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
every year?

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!

Calf Foam Rolling For Shin Splints
Single Leg Calf Raise Exercises

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)!

What to expect at Physio Fit Adelaide

Initial assessment with a physiotherapist includes thorough discussion of the nature of your pain (where, type of symptoms, duration and intensity of symptoms) as well as a bit about you! We can’t help you get better if we don’t know what it is you want to get back to! So we will also discuss your work, physical activity and other life demands to determine what management you need to get back to those things stronger and more robust than before!

We will then conduct a thorough physical assessment. This will involve both hands on assessment from the therapist but also practical assessment. This will include things related to your specific history, for example: running, kicking, squatting, jumping, lunging, getting on and off the floor and definitely ‘that exercise in the gym’ that gives you your shin splints. We will also make sure we keep track of how things are changing and add or subtract things from your program when necessary to make sure you’re always getting the best care possible! We’ll provide you with a management plan to help you understand your condition and your path forward to become pain free!

Don't delay your recovery - Take action today!

The occasional niggle or tightness may be nothing to worry about, but failing to pay attention to  sharp or lingering pain may end up causing you a lot of problems in the future. If your shin splints are stopping you from doing what you normally love to do, then it is time to get it looked at by one of our experienced physiotherapists. In general, ankle pain that is affecting your day to day life is a sign that something needs to be looked at.

Often we just assume things will get better by themselves or with enough rest, but this is rarely the case, so take action and get back to doing what you love as soon as possible!

COVID-19 UPDATE:

We are open! We have escalated our already stringent hygiene routines and are still here to support you. Whilst social distancing is important your pain and comfort is also our priority, which is why the Australia Government considers allied health an ‘essential’ service.

 

It is important that we help support the load of our amazing local GP’s during these testing times.

 

Should you be forced to self-isolate, or are in a high risk category, please call to discuss a video consultation - 

08 7226 9901 or visit Online Physiotherapy

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