Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome
a.k.a. Shin Splints
Shin splint syndrome — known medically as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome — is a painful condition brought on by exercise. Most runners are probably all too familiar with this condition, since it’s often triggered by running and jumping, both of which put repetitive load stress on the shins.
Usually pain that is associated with shin splints suggests a dysfunction of the tibialis anterior and posterior — that is, the muscles running along the front of the shin bone, and the deepest, central muscle surrounding the tibia. Pain is usually located where these muscles attach to the shin bone.
These are two of the four muscle compartments in the leg. The tibialis anterior is the main dorsiflexor muscle, which means that it’s used to pull the toes towards the shin, as we do when we walk or run. The tibialis posterior is used to plantarflex the foot, or point the toes downward. It’s also used to invert the foot, or roll the ankle outward. Knowing just this small bit of anatomy, you can see how both of these muscles are integral to walking, running, and jumping.
Shin splints are a really common overuse injury in sports, so we treat this condition all the time at MOTUS. In a lot of cases, the condition is brought on when an athlete increases or intensifies their training routine. If the change happens too fast, the muscles can get irritated and inflamed. Shin splints are associated with imbalance, inflexibility, and weakness in the lower legs.
Athletes that have weak calf muscles are more likely to experience muscle fatigue when running or working out, which can affect their technique and strain the tibia.
Because shin splints are usually the result of a training error, education is a big part of our treatment plan for shin splints. We want to make sure our patients leave knowing how to prevent more of the same issue in the future.
When suffering from shin splints, an athlete usually needs to take a break from activity. During that time, we can treat the pain and encourage recovery with tools like shockwave therapy, NMES, and Pneumatic Compression Therapy. Next, we’ll work on correcting technique and introduce exercises that will encourage safe and correct movements.
If you’re an athlete who is experiencing dull pain and tenderness along the inside of your shin bone, especially at the beginning of your work out, we encourage you to come in and see us. Shin splints are generally easy to treat, and taking care of the problem can make a huge difference in your athletic performance.