The experience of shin splints, like many injuries, can vary in intensity. Shin splints can impact sporting and training activities like running and soccer and not daily activities. Shin splints can also begin to significantly affect daily activities and work activities for some people.
Shin splints are also called “medial tibial stress syndrome”. (MTSS). Most often it is related to exercise / sport. Pain is usually felt on the inside of the shin bone.
Everyone is different (that’s why it is important for our Physiotherapists and Chiropodists to provide a thorough assessment), but the underlying issue is often a too much too soon, or repetitive loading during exercise with not enough recovery.
Exercises that include running and jumping movement are often implicated. Walking can also be a culprit for causing shin splints, especially with new shoes, and walking a lot more than a person has walked before.
The goals of Physiotherapy treatment for people with shin splints are multifactorial.
- Pain management – This may include such things as topical treatments, massage, compression, education regarding supportive footwear.
- Activity modification – training volume or type may need to change to help resolve shin splints. It’s possible (and desirable) to stay moving while rehabbing from this type of injury. Your Physiotherapist will work with you (and possibly your coach) to allow you to do this.
- Specific Strengthening – graduated strengthening to increase the load capacity of the calf complex.
- Global Strengthening – graduated strength programming for muscles up the chain. This helps strengthen muscles that contribute in the management of load during walking and running.
- Additional Treatment – while exercise is a major component in improvement in injuries like shin splints, as Physiotherapists we are also manual or hands-on therapists. We may also suggest manual stretching of tight muscles or joint mobilizations of stiff joints. We may also suggest providing soft tissue techniques like massage to he area.
Strengthening exercises for anyone is dependent on where a person is starting from. As Physiotherapists we consider a persons baseline level of strength and fitness. We would take into account the severity of injury as well.
It is important for an exercise to be challenging to provide enough load for tissue adaptation (ie tissue strengthening). Your Physio will help you manage this and the progression of this.
It does take time to build muscle strength and endurance. It will be important to progress your functional activity gradually to support your recovery from shin splints. Your Physiotherapist will also work with you on this. This is also dependent on you, how you respond etc.
It important to have a balance between rehab and the goal activity. The rehab and activity programming should allow enough recovery time between sessions.
Referrals in our Team:
We are so lucky in our North Oakville Physio clinic to be able to collaborate with our teammates from different professions. Our Physiotherapists will often suggest an assessment with a foot specialist / Chiropodist if custom orthotics or a shoe change may be in order. We may suggest Registered Massage Therapy as a complementary therapy as strength training and injury recovery can also be helped with soft tissue massage techniques of RMTs.
As always we are happy for people to access these services from their own trusted health care providers.