Although shin splints is a term frequently used it is actually an umbrella term referring to pain and discomfort in the leg from overuse of the lower leg muscles due to either poor lower limb bio-mechanics, or external factors like training on a hard surface.
It mostly refers to tibial stress syndrome, and compartment syndromes. Medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) refers to inflammation of the surface of the tibia (periostalgia). Research suggests it follows on from compartment syndrome.
What is compartment syndrome
Compartment syndrome refers to a condition that can occur on the front (anterior) of the shin, on the back (posterior) and the outside (lateral).
They are generally from overuse and occur when the fascia that surrounds that muscle in its ‘compartment’ becomes too tight from exercise.
This occurs when the muscle expands and the pressure on soft tissues, and even nerves, in that compartment causes pain. Classically the pain starts after a period of activity and eases off once activity ceases.
Shin splints treatment
Conservative treatment usually consists of a reduced or alternative exercise regime, physiotherapy to stretch the fascia, and correction of poor lower limb bio-mechanics with good footwear and insoles or orthotics.