Shin splints review

In this months’ NSCA strength and conditioning journal, one piece caught my eye because it discussed an injury I’ve heard self diagnosed by more people than any other.  I am of course talking about shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) to give it’s full name.  Below I’ll give you the highlights from Tolbert & Binkley’s article (reference below).

The condition will usually present with a dull ache following training/competition from the middle to the distal (bottom) of the posteromedial (rear/inside) border of the tibia.  Rest will usually alleviate pain but with continued training it will become more severe.  Hamstring and heel cord tightness as well as very high or very low foot arches have been shown to be predictors of MTSS.  Other associated causes include change in footwear or worn out footwear, training continually on very hard surfaces, progression to too high an exercise intensity, muscle imbalance and an over-pronated foot position.

The paper suggests static stretching as a rehabilitative and preventative measure.  The muscles targeted should include the hamstrings and gastrocnemius and soleus, or calf muscles.  Originally tibialis posterior was thought to be the site of pain and injury with MTSS but the irritation is now thought to be consistent with the medial soleus (the inside portion of the deeper calf muscle) hence the inclusion of the calf muscles in the prescribed stretching program.  As usual, the inclusion of certain targeted exercises and a well structured periodised training program can limit the chances of developing the syndrome…consult your strength and conditioning coach for details.

  • Tolbert, T.A. & Binkley, H.M. (2009).  Treatment and prevention of shin splints.  Strength and conditioning Journal, 31(5) pp. 69-72.

Neil Welch

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