Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) or shin splints as its more commonly known is a condition that effects a large portion of the population especially those engaged in regular long distance road running. Its onset typically comes from repeated impact on solid surfaces which, in turn leads to repetitive stress on the lower leg, more specifically the tibia or shin bone located on the medial part of the lower leg. As with a lot of other common injuries the sight of the pain isn’t always the cause of the pain, meaning, the problem may have started somewhere else. Bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles and fascia all have to be considered when assessing a body for biomechanical irregularities that lead to an injury of this kind.
In the case of shin splints, you may feel a tremendous aching sensation through the lower leg yet unless there is actually a stress fracture or hairline fracture to the tibia the likelihood is that it may be coming from a biomechanical imbalance in one or both of the ankles or feet. This is usually characterised by a collapsed or partially collapsed arch in the foot or both feet.
One of the first things I will look at with a client complaining of shin splits (and you can check this for yourself) is the wear on their shoes. Wearing on the medial or inside part of the shoe shows an excess of ankle pronation resulting in uneven distribution of weight through the lower leg, this can also be seen through the individuals unilateral leg balance. Someone with a tendency to flatten there foot in order to make more contact with the floor (poor biomechanics learned over time) will generally have a hard time standing on one leg on command! Get the same person to hop on one leg and it really brings the point home.
So now that you know that you may be overloading your lower leg due to biomechanical imbalances in the ankle and foot what can you do about it? Rest?? Ice?? That would be a yes to both in terms of easing the pain and tackling inflammation but neither of these are going to actually solve the problem. Once the inflammation has subsided and you decide to run again trust me, the pain will soon follow as you haven’t corrected the imbalances or tightness that exist from biomechanical irregularities in the lower limbs.
Not to put too fine a point on it but you can imagine that these lower limb irregularities tend not to stay isolated. So, here is the scenario, if you have stress on your right ankle your left knee could potentially take more stress over a prolonged period of time which may eventually lead to your right hip becoming inflamed or functionally challenged, next, as the hips are now under uneven stress your pelvis becomes misaligned, next stop lumbar spine and your lower back wont thank you for that!
Your body is a global machine built to work in unison without any excess tensions on any singular part or extremity until, imbalances are created through everyday living (sitting at a computer/ school desk, leaning to one side whilst driving/ watching telly, bent double gardening, playing sport etc.. etc…)
Now as everyday living can not and should not be avoided it’s up to you to make sure you seek professional help when it comes to assessing and correcting these irregularities and imbalances. Pain where ever it is shouldn’t be experienced by the body as a normal every day occurrence, pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong, don’t ignore it!
Give us a call at the studios for an appointment on 0191 213 5300