Shin splints (Medial or lateral Tibial Stress Syndrome)

Shin splints – Physiotherapy treatment and self management

What is it?

Shin splints (or posterior shin splints) refers to a symptom of pain over the front and inside of the shin bone. This pain can come from the muscles (tibialis posterior) or the muscle attachment onto the bone, or a irritation of bone itself or a combination.

Shin splints

What causes it?

Shin splints can be caused by a number of conditions:

  • Medial or Lateral tibial stress syndrome – over use of the muscle where it attaches onto the bone, which can progress to cause irritation of the bone itself and can lead to stress fractures.
  • Stress fractures – the tibia (or shin) starts to fracture with repetitive stresses
  • Medial tibial compartment syndrome – excessive muscle swelling, causing loss of circulation to the muscle which causes pain, weakness and even altered sensation (such as pins and needles and numbness).

All of these conditions are usually brought on by over training, or running on a very hard surface or poor biomechanics (e.g. flat feet) or poor footwear.

How can it be treated?

It is important to treat the underlying cause of shin splints, often this means addressing a number of factors depending on the individual including:

  • Ensuring the correct foot wear is being worn for the individuals foot-type
  • Reducing muscle tightness (calf tightness is common in shin splints)
  • Reduce any inflammation around the bone (with medication and ice)
  • Correct any biomechanical abnormalities which are contributing (such as foot pronation – flat feet, knee rotation when running, poor glut control) eg with use of orthotics
  • Correct the training regimen – if the person is over training or doing too much training on a hard surface (such as the road/ foot path)
  • Correct any strength deficits (often the calf and tibialis posterior are found to be weak)
  • Soft tissue massage for tight muscles (often the calf muscle)

What happens if you ignore shin splints?

If you continue to push through the pain with running, the tendons of the muscle can start to put so much strain on the bony attachments that it starts to cause stress fractures in the shin. This can take a long time to recover from.

What can you do to self manage shin splints?

  • Don’t push through the pain – you need to reduce your exercise program (eg change to swimming or cycling to maintain cardiovascular fitness)
  • Apply ice wrapped in a wet cloth over the painful area for 15 minutes daily
  • Stretch  – the calf muscles (with the heel hanging over the edge of a step and push down for 30 seconds)

Shin splints

  • If the tenderness to touch and pain with running does not settle within a week it is important to see your physiotherapist as there are probably other issues that need to be identified and addressed.

Gold Coast Physiotherapy and Allied Health at Burleigh Heads and Broadbeach  07 5535 5218


Our Response to Covid-19

This page is up to date to our best knowledge, however, this is a rapidly evolving situation so we apologise for any potential delay in updating this information.

We want to reassure all our patients that we are following stringent infection control procedures in our clinic, and screen all people coming into the clinic, to exclude any patients that have any signs or symptoms consistent with Covid-19, as well as screening any patients that should be in isolation ie recently returned from overseas, or have been advised to isolate due to recent exposure with a known Covid-19 patient.

All our staff have now completed the Department of Health Covid-19 Infection Control Training.

What are we doing to minimise risk?

  • Screening patients for risk factors over the phone or through text messages before they attend appointments. Those with risk factors or symptoms are advised not to attend & to seek medical advice.
  • Hand sanitiser station at the front of the building must be used before you enter.
  • Following stringent infection control measures within the clinic. This includes
    • Disinfecting all beds, door handles, EFTPOS machine before and after each patient use.
    • Linen changed between each patient and commonly touched surfaces through the practice are cleaned regularly throughout the day.
    • Minimising the distances between clients in the waiting room- some chairs are outside undercover.
  • We have advised our team members not to come to work if they have cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • We are following all Department of Health recommendations for our type of business.

On the 30th March 2020 – the Australian government issued a statement that “People aged over 70, aged over 60 with pre-existing conditions, or Indigenous people aged over 50 should stay home wherever possible for their own protection.”

The decision to come in for physiotherapy treatment really is an individual one – if you feel that your treatment is medically necessary, and are comfortable with the risks of leaving your home and coming to physiotherapy, then rest assured that when you attend our physiotherapy clinic, we are following our strict infection control processes and doing everything we can to minimise your risk whilst in our care. However, we completely understand if you are not comfortable with coming in for treatment.

TELEHealth Consultations

We are offering telehealth consults and home visits (where suitable) for patients who cannot attend our clinic.

Read more about TELEhealth Consultations here.

Staying Healthy

  • Wash your hands often (and for 20 seconds) with soap and water
  • Cough into your elbow or use a tissue to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Social distancing practices – Avoiding close contact with others, such as touching, including shaking hands
  • Limit contact with people who are sick, and stay home if you are sick and encourage employees to stay home when sick
  • Get 7-8 hours’ sleep a night to help your immune system stay strong
Please stay safe and take care of each other!

We are monitoring the situation very closely and will make adjustments to our business as we are further informed. Our priority is the health & well being of our patients and our staff. Thanks for your understanding.

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