Most people have heard of dreaded shin splints; you may have even suffered from this in the past. The fancy (medical) name for shin splints is ‘Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome’ or MTSS.
MTSS is most often exercise-related and manifests as pain on the inside of the shin. The underlying issue is often a result of repetitive loading/overuse during exercise, particularly running, and jumping-type movements.
Management by a physiotherapist will include gathering a thorough history and a clinical assessment which is used to rule out more serious pathologies. Your plan may include advice around exercise load management/exercise modification, hands-on therapy, self-treatment advice and specific exercises to make a full recovery.
Here are 5 tips for helping to manage MTSS:
Ensure that you are not having sudden, drastic changes in your exercise load. To do this, it is important to carefully track aspects of exercise such as distances run, intensity, types of surfaces you are training on as well as monitoring how symptoms are affected during AND following your exercise. Your physiotherapist will offer guidance on all these aspects of your exercise to ensure you’re doing the right amount.
2. Appropriate Rest
It’s important to know that MTSS may not mean complete rest from activity is needed. Although this may be the case for you, MTSS is an overuse injury that requires an adequate amount of rest to settle symptoms down and ensure that you do not stir things up more. Finding the optimal amount of rest:exercise ratio is difficult and this will likely be achieved by starting with reduced frequency of exercise and gradually building this back up to pre-injury levels.
3. Modify Training
We know everybody has a sport or type of exercise that they love, but if possible, it is important that we modify the type of training to assist with resolution of MTSS. Rather than ceasing exercise altogether, it’s possible to maintain your fitness or conditioning. If you are a runner, this may mean trying some cycling or getting on the cross trainer/elliptical. The beauty of this minimal fitness loss whilst allowing adequate rest from aggravating activities.
4. Consider Footwear
Whether you’re a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, it is worth considering what type of shoes you are wearing. It may seem obvious, but in some cases, poorly designed footwear may play a role in development of MTSS. Maybe those Converse shoes aren’t the best to run in?
5. DO YOUR EXERCISES!
Completing your individualised program will address each component that is important to keep you healthy, pain-free and reduce your risk of flare-ups from happening in the future. This may also mean giving your body some TLC by self-massaging, stretching or icing. JUST DO IT!
If you need help with shin pain, make an appointment today: