Shin splints, also known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS), can be described as pain bellow the knee along the inner part leg. Shin splints occur most commonly in runners, but can affect anyone doing high impact activities including dancers, and military personnel.
What Causes the Pain?
The exact cause of the pain is considered multi-factorial and not fully understood. Although recent studies indicate that the cause involves altered biomechanics (how the body moves) of leg and foot causing increased stress on the Tibia and surrounding muscles and ligaments. This can cause pain and inflammation, and through repetitive use the problem can worsen. Often this pattern of pain can be associated with increased activity. Either starting a new exercise regime or increasing level or amount of exercise.
Although less common, a couple of other injuries can present with a similar pattern of pain:
Factors Contributing to Shin Splints
Although medial tibial stress syndrome is considered to have many contributing factors. They can largely be described as intrinsic factors or extrinsic factors.
- Inadequate footwear – causing excessive impact into the tibia or over-pronation of the foot.
- Over-training – training too hard or too frequently, not giving your body the time needed to recover or adjust.
- Ground Type – Soft, Hard, incline, and decline surfaces all change how we impact the ground.
- Altered Biomechanics – altered geometry through the pelvis, spine, knee or foot could change how you absorb the shock placed through the body whilst running.
- Nutrition and Hydration – the fuel for our bodies.
- Previous Injury – previous injuries can impact how we move, placing more biomechanical strain on areas as the body compensates.
Self Help for Shin Splints
If you think you have medial tibial stress syndrome its advisable to stop the causing activity for two weeks to allow time to heal. If you really can not bear the break and the loss of fitness, try low impact activities like swimming, cross-trainers, or cycling.
Icing can help to decrease inflammation and ease pain. Ice area with ice pack wrapped in a tea towel for 10 minutes every 2-3 hours for up to 48 hours.
Take a look at our 7 Tips to Beat Shin Splints