Shin Splints Physiotherapy
By Reza Ghannadan, MPT, BSc (Kin), Physiotherapist
What are shin splints?
Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome, is an overuse condition due to excessive pulling on the muscles of the leg. With repetitive overuse, this can result in tightening of the muscles along the shin bone, which causes pain and inflammation along the leg.
People often complain of pain on either side of the front of their leg. The pain is usually worse during or after exercise, and typically the morning after. Pain is usually brought on with weight-bearing activities (eg., running) or activities that require you to push your ankle down repeatedly.
Risk Factors for Shin Splints
Several factors contribute to developing shin splints. These include:
- Flat feet
- Training errors: excessive training, inadequate rest, sudden increase in intensity or type of activity, poor technique
- Muscle dysfunction, poor alignment or decreased flexibility
- Shoe design or surface type
How can physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapy is essential in managing the pain and helping you return to activity. Treatment may consist of the following:
- Increasing movement through pain-free exercise, muscle ‘releases’ and hands-on stretching
- Decreasing muscle tension through Dry Needling or tight muscle ‘releases’ from Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)
- Restoring muscle imbalances by stretching tight muscles and strengthening weak muscles
- Restoring alignment with custom othotics
- Decreasing inflammation and pain using ice and other sports physiotherapy modalities
- Athletic Taping (or KT taping) to decrease pain during activity
Practical Tips for Shin Splints
- Consult with a physiotherapist
- Initial rest, ice and pain medications (as prescribed by your doctor)
- Ensure you warm-up properly prior to your sport
- Activity modification: swimming and cycling are excellent alternatives to keep you active while recovering
- Orthotics may be helpful to restore alignment
- Stretching your calf and shin muscles, or using a foam roller
Sports Physiotherapy Clinic in Burnaby BC
If you are experiencing shin splints, our Burnaby sports injury physiotherapy clinic can help. Sports physiotherapy is specialized for identifying the cause of your pain and developing a specific treatment plan to keep you active.
About the author
Brukner, P. & Khan, K. (2013). Clinical sports medicine (4th Ed). Australia: McGraw-Hill Australia Pty Ltd.