Anatomical model running with bones highlighted, showing pain from medial tibial stress syndrome, or shin splints.

What exactly are shin splints (medial stress overload)?

In 2004, Bruckner and Kahn clinically described shin splints as “the accumulation of excessive force through the medial aspect of the shin, which in turn causes pain, inflammation and stress reactions through the leg. (Bruckner & Kahn 2004)

Shin splints or lower leg pain is often occurs when an individual starts to involve themselves in endurance based activities or tasks that require them to perform the same movement of an ankle joint.  Shin splints are commonly found in runners that have been running for long periods of time or those that have taken up running again after a period of rest and lost conditioning through their lower limb structures.

Anatomically, within the lower leg we have a major shin bone named the tibia.  This bone provides points of attachments for many of the muscles in the lower leg, one of these is the tibialis posterior muscle which attaches to the posterior medial aspect of the tibia and passes down along the length of the bone, wrapping around the medial malleolus and coming in to attach to the cuboid and the second, third and fourth metatarsals.  Structurally it forms parts of the medial and longitudinal arches of the foot.  Weakness or instability through this area of the foot can lead to over pronation and an increase in stress to the inner portion of the leg.

How do shin splints occur?

Shin splints can be caused through both structural and functional imbalances.  This places stress through the medial aspect of the leg, extending from as far from the inside of the knee to the inside of the ankle bone.

Finding relief from your symptoms

The best way to relieve the pain from shin splints is to:

  • Rest from activity of aggravation
  • Apply ice to the direct area – don’t be afraid to slide the ice pack up and down through the inside of the leg
  • Release restriction through the surrounding muscles
  • Wearing compression stockings to help with lymphatic flow
  • Taping of the foot to reduce load through the inside of the leg (if needed)
  • Taping of the calf muscle (pulling the medial aspect of the closer to the shin bone – this aims to take the pull away from the outer lining of the bone in which the muscle attaches to.)

How to stop shin splints from occurring
In order to prevent your symptoms from occurring there are often biomechanical changes/interventions your body must undertake, such as:

  • Strengthening of the arch of the foot
  • Increasing hamstring strength
  • Addressing the position of the heel
  • Increasing calf flexibility
  • Increasing inside quad strength

If your condition is deemed to be structural then the use of orthotics may be indicated in order to improve your alignment.  This in turn will allow for greater chance of gluteal and hamstring activation.

A Myotherapist can assess you, develop an appropriate treatment plan and regularly monitor your condition to ensure you gain relief from your symptoms and prevent them from returning.  So if you are suffering lower leg pain and would like to find out how Myotherapy can help you find relief, call Brighton Wellness Group on 03 9596 9930 to book an appointment.

To learn more about Myotherapy, click here.


Category: Myotherapy