Podiatry For Shin Splints in Sutherland

What are Shin Splints?

‘Shin splints’ is a common term for medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). It refers to pain felt anywhere along the shin from the knee and down to the ankle. MTSS can be attributed to an overloading of the lower limb due to biomechanical irregularities and an escalation of stress exerted on the tibia.

A sudden increase in exercise intensity or frequency fatigues our lower limb muscles too quickly, which limits their shock absorbing qualities and transfers the force into the tibia which is less equipped to absorb the additional force. Athletes who do a lot of running are especially prone to MTSS, particularly those who are attempting to exercise beyond their current level of fitness.

What causes Shin Splints?

The precise cause is unknown, however it is believed that overuse of the tendons and muscles that run the length of the tibia are pulling excessively on the bone and creating inflammation. More recent research suggests it is more likely a stress reaction from the bone.

Symptoms of Shin Splints

The symptoms and signs of shin splints can include:

  • Aches and pains are felt along the shinbone.
  • The area is tender and sore to touch.
  • The overlying skin may be red and inflamed.
  • The pain may be felt before, during or after running.

Causes of Shin Splints

MTSS can be caused by a combination of causes which may include:

  • Overuse – this is one of the most common causes of MTSS.
  • Flat feet – the muscles involved in maintaining the arch of the foot run along the length of the tibia. If this arch is lowered, it can pull at the tendons and cause pain.
  • Incorrect technique – poor running form and technique, such as ‘rolling’ the feet inwards (pronation), can leads to increased strain on the muscles and tendons.
  • High impact activities – the impact of running on hard or uneven surfaces, particularly in old or worn shoes can injure your muscles and tendons.
  • Running shoes – wearing shoes which are unsuited to your foot type whilst running can contribute to shin splints.

How can we treat this?

One of our Podiatrists will take a full history and assessment. Based on their findings, your treatment may vary but will likely include one or more of the following:

  • Rest and ice. Rest is necessary to allow the tibia to recover from the additional stress. It is important to significantly reduce any pain or swelling before returning to activity.
  • Strengthening exercises after pain has subsided, focusing on lower leg and hip muscles.
  • A gradual return to activity, beginning with a short and low intensity level.
  • Individuals should consider running on other surfaces besides asphalt, such as grass, to decrease the amount of force the lower leg must absorb.
  • Orthotics and insoles help to correct biomechanical irregularities, like pronation, and help to support the arch of the foot.

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