I have been meeting quite a few people with shin splints lately. Shin splints are a very frustrating injury and can take a while to fully recover. Shin splints are usually felt on the inside of your calf on the bone. Shin splints is actually a bone injury of the tibia. Because of this the technical name for shin splints is medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS).
Shin splints or MTSS cannot be diagnosed through imaging. This is because there is no conclusive evidence on what part of the bone is being injured. Since we don’t know what part of the bone is injured we cannot say for sure what is the best treatment. The two most dominating theories is that the skin of the bone (the periosteum) is being irritated, or there are undetectable microfractures in the bone causing pain.
Most would agree that treating MTSS according to the first theory is the best way to start recovering from MTSS. Under this theory it is surmised that the flexor hallicus longus (FHL) is the main culprit for causing pain to the tibia (deep calf muscle). Releasing this muscle and surrounding muscles can help relieve pain and help MTSS to recover. Although this is a great course of action, it does not always help with the pain.
If your pain does not subside after release the FHL then you may be experiencing pain because of microfractures. Under this theory we have to figure out why so much strain is being put on your tibia. This can be because of nutrition, muscle imbalances, and/or misalignments. Figuring out the cause of your MTSS at this point becomes quite the puzzle and it can take some time to figure out.
If you’d like to learn more about MTSS feel free to come ask us or you can check out my blog post https://athlecare.com/medial-tibial-stress-syndrome-shin-splints/.
I hope you keep yourself healthy over the holidays. It is easy to forget to take care of yourself with all that happens during December. Prevention and maintenance is the secret sauce to long-term health and wellness.