What are shin splints

They can be detrimental to many athletes, runners, tennis players and even dancers. They can often effect beginning runners who do not build their mileage gradually enough or runners who abruptly change their workout regimen. Shin splints can also be referred to as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). There  is no consensus among sports scientists about what shin splints actually are. Theories have included small tears in the muscle that has pulled off the bone, an inflammation of the thin sheath of tissue that wraps around the tibia, or the shin bone (periosteum), an inflammation of the muscle, or some combination of these.

Shin splints can often be misdiagnosed. It is important to rule out the following two conditions:

- Compartment syndrome presents as pain on the anterior (outside) part of the lower leg and is a swelling of muscle within a closed compartment. This creates pressure and pain in this region as well as unusual nerve sensations and if not managed can eventually lead to muscle weakness.

- Lower leg pain can also be a stress fracture (an incomplete fracture in the bone), which is more serious. It is mainly diagnosed through a bone scan but the following signs can help determine the need for a scan. Shin splints are more generalized, where as a stress fracture has a definitive spot of sharp pain when fingertips are pressed along your shin. Stress fractures can also feel better in the morning as the bone has had time to rest all night whereas shin splints often feel worse in the morning as the soft tissue tightens overnight. When the foot is forcibly lifted and flexed at the ankle it can be extremely painful if it is shin splints.

 The most common type is medial shin splints (inside of the shin) and a number of factors can contribute that include: over-pronation (frequent cause of medial shin splints), inadequate stretching, worn out shoes, excessive stress placed on the leg (usually one leg is involved) from running on cambered roads or in the same direction on a track. 

 Anterior shin splints (toward the outside of the leg) usually result from an imbalance between the calf muscles and the muscles in the front of your leg. If the calf is tight and weak, then the anterior leg muscles have to work harder in order to allow the foot to flex. It can often afflict beginners who either have not yet adjusted to the stresses of running or are not stretching enough.

If you have upped your running mileage and the above describes your aches and pains Physio on Brunswick can help. Servicing  Brisbane, Fortitude Valley, New Farm and surrounding suburbs the team can be contacted on 3252 5277 to arrange your appointment or pop in to meet our friendly reception team for assistance. 

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