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What we’ll cover
  1. What are shin splints?
  2. How do you diagnose shin splints?
  3. How do you treat shin splints?
  4. When can I run again after shin splints?

Shin Splints – Physiotherapy

Shin splints or Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) is a condition that causes pain around the front of your shin(tibia). Symptoms and pain often occur with anything that increases loading such as running or jumping. In more severe cases, pain in the shin can often linger or become an ache even after exercise has stopped.

With winter sport such as football and soccer underway, we a seeing an increasing number of people present with shin splints. Physiotherapist Laura Scott identifies what can be done to reduce and prevent the likelihood of shin splints.

What are shin splints?

Shin splints are an overuse/stress-based injury. The actual cause and pathophysiology of shin splints is associated by excessive traction and pulling of the calf muscle and facia on the periosteum (tissue surrounding the bone). This excessive traction causes inflammation and and pain. If untreated, this bony reaction can progress and lead to stress fractures. ‘

This mechanism is often attributed to poor training habits such as increasing distance, duration or intensity too quickly. However, poor biomechanics or strength can also cause increased stress and strain through the shin.

Other risk factors for developing shin splints include:
– Female (due to hormonal factors)
– Increased BMI
– Increased load
– Pronated/flat feet
– Weakness throughout the lower limb especially calves
– Poor/old footwear

How do you diagnose shin splints?

Your physiotherapist will do a thorough subjective and physical examination to assess and diagnose shin splints.

Common symptoms of shin splints include pain or discomfort around your shin bone with activity such as running or jumping. In mild cases, these symptoms can appear to warm up. In more sever cases, pain can linger after activity or sport has stopped. Most cases of shin splints will also present with increased tenderness or pain with touch along the front of the shin.

An assessment of shin splints commonly includes assessing walking/running, squatting, strength tests and flexibility tests to identify what other factors will be causing or contributing to your shin splints

Further investigations or imaging is very rarely required to confirm a diagnoses. However, in circumstances where your physiotherapist is ruling out a stress fracture, imaging such as X-ray , bone scans or an MRI may be organised.

How do you treat shin splints?

Initial treatment focuses on reducing acute pain. This may involve massage, joint mobilisation, taping, and utilising compression and ice. Your physiotherapist will discuss cross-training options if required or may modify your current training load. During the initial phase, your physiotherapist will begin to address other factors that may be causing your injury. These exercises may include addressing any imbalances in muscle strength and flexibility. This includes introducing core or gluteal strength exercises. Cross training exercises can often be considered to maintain cardiovascular fitness. Safe cross training exercises can include using an exercise bike, swimming, rowing or the elliptical machine.

As your symptoms improve, your physiotherapist will gradually introduce more load including introducing training or running. Given that shin splints can be associated with irritation of the bone, your physiotherapist will be very specific with what you can and cannot do. When returning back to sport, a good guideline to follow is that there is no pin point pain and that symptoms settle after activity or exercise is stopped.

Importantly, strengthening and building endurance of your calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) is important to reduce the likelihood of shin splints. Heel raises with a straight knee and bent knee are great ways to strengthen your calf muscles. Start with both feet on the ground before progressing to single leg. Try repeating these exercises until fatigue and repeat 4 – 5 x daily.

When can I run again after shin splints?

Your physiotherapist will utilise a range of assessments and tests to ensure that you are safe to return to running and sport. In mild cases this can be between 2 – 4 weeks but in more severe cases it can take up to several months.

In addition to symptoms, your strength and endurance will also determine time frames in getting back to activity A good guideline to test your calf strength is your ability to do single leg calf raises. Prior to returning to running, you should be able to complete between 20 – 25 single leg calf raises. Our team also utilise onsite strength testing technology.

Should you be experiencing shin splints, contact our team or book online today.


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Last week our team celebrated another great year. 

Whilst Melbourne’s weather had its own plans, we were still determined to keep with the theme of ‘Italian Summer’. We let our hair down to master the art of mixology 🍸🍹followed by an Italian feast. Friday morning Run Club with the team. Practicing what we preach!

Staying stronger, healthier and happier. This time last week, our team was nervously completing their final preparations for @melbmara . 

Congratulations to our physiotherapists and ME community who ran on the day.

Dilen and Michael completed their first marathons. Abbey and Lizzie smashed out their first half. Last Sunday, our team headed down to see our own Matt Warren win a premiership in the VAFA Premier Men’s Competition. Last week our team dedicated a full day to professional development and team building. At ME Physio we pride ourselves on collaboration to put you at the centre of everything we do. 

Our team covered the latest treatments for back pain, financial well-being and finished off the day with salsa dancing. 

Many thanks to our guests including James Schomburgk from @the2ndvisitphysio , Financial Planners Tony Vikram & Cameron Bishop and the @salsafoundation At ME Physio, our focus is on helping you get stronger so that you can keep doing the things you love.

For Tony and Joan, healthier and stronger is being able to navigate the iconic Coast to Coast Walk in the UK! We recently had the pleasure of hosting Elise Bujor from Women’s & Men’s Health Physiotherapy to discuss women’s health issues across the lifespan. 

Our team pride themselves on staying up to date to ensure you’re able to stay healthier, happier and stronger. Huge milestones over the past few weeks with both Tom and Jude from @delasallefc doing their first bit of running in their rehab. 

Tom is on the return from an ankle dislocation whilst Jude is putting in the hard work following a knee reconstruction. Last week our team enjoyed some friendly rivalry at the footy. 

With finals around the corner, some of our team can now safely make holidays plans for September. We recently had the pleasure of hosting the podiatry team from @sespodiatry. 

Our physiotherapists Michael and Abbey presented on rehabilitation following Achilles surgical repair and ankle surgery. Last weekend some of our team got together to complete the 10 km run @runmelbourne. There was no finish line picture as some were keen to run another 15 km!

Whilst running wasn’t for some - brunch was well received by everyone. Shoulder impingement can be incredibly frustrating and painful. 

Tony has been working closely with our physiotherapists Vernon and Dilen to get on top of his shoulder pain. His treatment plan has included hands-on physiotherapy and individualised exercises in our hydrotherapy and strength programs.

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