Stuart Hinds demonstrates assessment and treatment of Medial Tibial Pain Syndrome (Shin Splints) using soft tissue therapy.
Shin splints are especially common amongst runners and other athletes who have just returned after a break, or who are stepping up the intensity and duration of their training.
Shin splints is a general, descriptive term used to describe most painful conditions in the front area of the shin. There are however many potential causes of the pain.
Medial Tibial Pain Syndrome (Shin Splints)
Medial tibial pain syndrome is the most common cause of shin pain. This refers to pain typically experienced over the shin bone. Altering the duration, frequency or intensity of running can often lead to this condition developing.
Repetitive stress on the tibialis anterior muscle leading to inflammation at its bony attachment to the tibia. Repetitive impact forces on the tibia, as with running and jumping.
Weakening of any of the muscles in the lower limbs as a result of trauma or active trigger points left unattended.
Signs and symptoms
Dull, aching pain over the inside of the tibia. Pain is worse with activity. Tenderness over the inner side of the tibia with possible slight swelling.
Complications if left unattended
If left unattended, shin splints can cause extreme pain and cause cessation of running activities. The inflammation can lead to other injuries including compartment syndrome.
RICER: anti-inflammatory medication, then heat and massage to promote blood flow and healing.
Rehabilitation and prevention
It is important to use low-impact activities, such as swimming or cycling, to maintain conditioning levels while recovering. Stretching will be a useful aid to recovery.
Try to alternate high-impact activity days with low-impact days.
Note the importance of work to strengthen lower limb muscles to be best prepared for high impact activities.
Shin splints are typically caused by an imbalance with the complex of the muscles of the lower limb. Trigger points may become active for a number of reasons including gait imbalances (as a result of poorly fitting footwear) or overuse.
Check for active trigger points in extensors, peroneals, tibialis anterior, tibialis posterior, gastrocnemius, soleus.
Most common forms of shin pain (including Medial Tibial Pain Syndrome) can be effectively treated with no long-term effects.Only in rare cases does the condition fail to respond to rest and rehabilitation, leading to chronic inflammation and pain. Surgery may be required in those rare cases.
About the author
Stuart Hinds is one of Australia’s leading soft tissue therapists, with over 27 years of experience as a practitioner, working with elite sports athletes, supporting Olympic teams, educating and mentoring others as well as running a highly successful clinic in Geelong.
Stuart has a strong following of practitioners across Australia and globally who tap into his expertise as a soft-tissue specialist. He delivers a range of highly sought after seminars across Australia, supported by online videos, webinars and one-on-one mentoring to help support his colleagues to build successful businesses.
In 2016, Stuart was awarded a lifetime membership to Massage & Myotherapy Australia for his significant support and contribution to the industry.
This trigger point therapy blog is intended to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or to substitute for a medical diagnosis and/or treatment rendered or prescribed by a physician or competent healthcare professional. This information is designed as educational material, but should not be taken as a recommendation for treatment of any particular person or patient. Always consult your physician if you think you need treatment or if you feel unwell.