Nov 2015 21

Shin splints (MTSS)

By: Dave Wheeler

These days the condition that I used to know as shin splints is known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS).

MTSS is usually associated with a vague diffuse pain at the front of the lower leg. It's an over-use injury most frequently associated with runners who over-do it.

Pain is felt along the shin bone, and is often worse at the start of exercising, seeming to ease off after a bit of running.

As time goes on the pain occurs sooner, and lasts longer.

MTSS is a result of over-use of the shin muscle (tibialis anterior).


Tibialis Anterior

Tibialis anterior is responsible for a movement of the ankle called dorsiflexion: the pulling up of foot towards the body.

Every footstep that you take when walking or running involves dorsiflextion of the foot, and so use of the tibialis anterior muscle.



Normally this isn't a problem - but if you start (or increase) your running at a high intensity when you're not used to it, you're in danger of stressing the muscle and the connective tissue called fascia that surrounds it.

Some people seem to be able to start running a lot without any problems - the difference seems to be that if you've got "flat feet" (overpronation) then the muscle at the front seems to get used more.

MTSS isn't a serious condition and a couple of weeks rest will sort the problem out.

That said, though it's not serious, if you try to run through it, and keep running, you could be compounding an underlying problem which will mean you'll make it serious.


Treating MTSS

The best way of treating "shin splints" seems to be:

  • Stop exercising
  • Stretch (point your toes downwards like a ballerina, and hold for a minute)
  • Go and buy decent running shoes for when you're ready to start running again
  • Get a good sports / remedial massage


As ever, if you think I can help,give me a call.