What are shin splints?

Shin splints are an overuse injury involving the muscles that attach from the shin bone (tibia) to the foot. It is also commonly referred to as medial tibial stress syndrome or MTSS. Repetitive strain and load on these shin muscles result in muscle fatigue, pain and inflammation at the muscle’s bony attachment site on the tibia.

Do you suffer from shin splints?

Signs & symptoms of shin splints

The following signs or symptoms may indicate shin splints:

  • Pain or tenderness along the inside of of your shin bone.
  • Pain may range from mild discomfort to severe burning.
  • Pain generally occurs in the middle to lower third of the tibia.
  • Symptoms are usually most noticeable at the start of activity or sport and diminish as activity continues.
  • Pain can often return following activity or sport and can be worse the next day.
  • In severe cases of shin splints or MTSS pain may be continuous.
Shin splints treatment Camberwell

Causes of shin splints

Shin splints are caused by repetitive strain and load on the shin muscles, resulting in muscle fatigue, pain and inflammation at the muscle’s bony attachment site on the tibia. Risk factors that can increase load on the shin muscles and tibia include:

  • An increase in the duration, frequency or intensity of training
  • Running on uneven or hard surfaces
  • Tight or weak lower leg muscles
  • Poor foot mechanics including flat feet and high arched feet
  • Poor footwear

Foot biomechanics can play a significant role in shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome. When you walk or run your feet should ideally pronate (roll in) a little to help adapt to surfaces whilst absorbing shock and forces especially during heel strike. Flat feet or feet that excessively pronate (roll in too much) can cause overuse of the medial shin muscles as they try and slow down this foot movement, resulting in shin splints. High arched feet on the other hand are poor at shock absorption because they don’t pronate or roll in enough. Poor foot shock absorption will transfer the load and forces onto the tibia (shin bone), resulting in shin splints.

Repetitive shin splints can also progress to lower leg stress fractures, as weak shin muscles will transfer the stress onto the bone, which then may result in bone fatigue and a small micro fracture.

Sports that involve repetitive loading like running are often associated with shin splints and they account for approximately 17% of running injuries.

Shin splints diagnosis

Shin splints are easily diagnosed clinically by our Melbourne sports podiatrists, who are experts in identifying sports injuries of the foot and ankle. If our podiatrists suspect an associated lower leg stress fracture then referral for an MRI or bone scan may be required to confirm diagnosis.

Podiatry treatment for shin splints

The sports podiatrists at Melbourne Podiatrists & Orthotics are highly experienced in treating shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome for both amateur and professional athletes. Our podiatrists can use computer gait analysis to help identify biomechanical faults in your running which may be a cause of shin splints.

Treatment options at our Melbourne foot clinic may include:

Orthotics can help shin splints by improving foot function and reducing excess foot pronation. In severe cases of shin splints along with some foot types, modification of running technique may be required to successfully reduce forces on the shin bone and resolve symptoms.

A podiatrist is the best health professional to identify and address underlying biomechanical causes of shin splints.

Call us Melbourne Podiatrist

Do you suffer from shin splints?

At our Melbourne foot clinic our sports podiatrists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the foot, ankle and lower leg. This includes shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome treatment.

So if you are suffering from painful shins or think you may have shin splints book an appointment with one of our friendly sports podiatrists today!