There are many reasons for developing pain around the shin during sporting activity. “Shin Splints” does not give us a true definition of any of these conditions and is used more as an umbrella term.

One of the most common injuries that runners experience is Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS), this occurs due to inflammation along the lining of the shin bone (Tibia).

If you are suffering from MTSS then you will experience a pain along the lower 1/3 of the inside of you tibia, where the bone and muscle meet. The pain can be diffuse all along this lower third, if you have a pin point pain more direct to the bone itself it may be a sign of potential stress fracture and in any doubt advice should be sought from a professional.

The reasons for developing this condition are varied but often include the following:

  • Overuse – Often seen in people who increase their mileage too quickly and in other sports during pre-season training when there has been a period of inactivity.
  • Poor choice of footwear – Footwear can become somewhat of a minefield with all the options available. Seeking professional advice in you are unsure will help you make a good choice. This extends to regularly changing shoes as they will become worn out. The general consensus is to change running shoes after 500 miles.
  • Biomechanics – How we are moving when running and the movements our legs and feet are making are very important for determining the forces and stresses that are placed upon them.
  • Muscle weakness – Poor muscle control can result in a lack of controlled movement in other parts of the body leading to compensatory mechanisms. As a result we can place our bodies under greater stress.
  • General Health – There are other conditions that may increase risk of developing MTSS i.e lower bone density has been shown to have an increased risk.

So you are suffering with MTSS what should you do now?

  • Ice – Applying ice to the painful area can help to reduce the symptoms
  • Activity Modification – This may mean greatly reducing or stopping the activity until the body has had a chance to recover. Swimming or cycling are good alternative exercises that do not place the same stress on the area.
  • Running Surface – Hard surfaces can cause more problems and in some cases running on softer surfaces may reduce the forces placed on the body.
  • Muscle work – Starting a regime of strengthening exercises will improve the muscles capability to withstand loads and decrease the risk of fatiguing.
  • Foot Orthoses – A podiatrist will be able to conduct a biomechanical assessment to observe how your lower limbs are moving when running. They can then select a device capable of altering the way forces move throughout your lower limb, placing stress away from the injured area.