Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome or ‘Shin Splints'
Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) is the correct medical name for shin splints. MTSS is exercise induced pain in the tibia (shin bone) caused by repetitive loading on the muscles and bone. The causes of MTSS are usually a lot more biomechanical in nature and is usually due to weakness and fatigue in the muscles around the tibia leading to excessive strain onto the tibial bone. The main causes of MTSS are:
- Poor running style
- Lack of ankle or big toe range of motion
- Weakness/fatigue in the posterior lower leg muscles (calf muscles)
- Tightness in the calf muscles and the plantar fascia (sole of the foot)
- Weakness further up the chain i.e. hamstrings, adductors leading to compensation further down.
Over-training is another cause of shin pain but as it is so common it gets its own paragraph! Shin pain can often be caused by someone increasing their training too much too soon. This could be
either in terms of number of times per week, the intensity of each session or the distance. If a combination of these are increased too quickly it will lead to injury, the main one being shin pain.
Signs and Symptoms
- Pain and tenderness to touch on the lower third of the tibia bone. This will either be centrally or just on the inside of the bone
- Pain in running and impact
- Inability to run due to pain
- Potentially swelling and bruising
- No pain at rest or at night.
The main treatment for MTSS is to rest from the aggravating factors such as running until symptoms settle and then address the underlying causes (see above list). This is usually best to do via a physiotherapist.