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Author - Anastasia Belikov, PT, Cert. MDT
Graduated with her DPT in 2017

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What Causes Shin Splints


Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, is a common condition that affects runners, dancers, and athletes who engage in high-impact activities. The condition is characterized by pain and tenderness along the shinbone or tibia, which can be caused by a variety of factors. The most common causes of shin splints include overuse, improper footwear, running on hard surfaces, and muscular imbalances. Other factors that can contribute to the development of shin splints include flat feet or high arches, poor running technique, and a sudden increase in training intensity or frequency. Additionally, factors such as age, gender, and body weight can also play a role in the development of shin splints. It is important to address the underlying causes of shin splints in order to effectively treat the condition and prevent it from recurring.

The tibia and talus joint is located in the ankle and is responsible for facilitating the up-and-down movement of the foot. The joint is formed by the articulation between the tibia, which is the larger of the two bones in the lower leg, and the talus, which is one of the bones in the foot. The tibia and talus joint is held together by strong ligaments, which provide stability and support to the joint during movement. However, this joint can be susceptible to injury and pain, particularly due to trauma, overuse, or conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. The most common symptoms of tibia and talus joint pain include swelling, stiffness, and tenderness in the ankle region, as well as difficulty walking or bearing weight on the affected foot. 

The syndesmosis joint is a type of joint located between the tibia and fibula bones of the lower leg. Unlike other joints that are held together by ligaments, the syndesmosis joint is held together by a strong sheet of connective tissue called the interosseous membrane. The syndesmosis joint plays an important role in stabilizing the ankle joint during movements such as walking and running. However, this joint can be prone to injury, particularly due to twisting or rotational forces applied to the ankle. When the syndesmosis joint is injured, it can result in a condition known as high ankle sprain, which is characterized by pain and tenderness in the ankle region, as well as swelling, bruising, and difficulty bearing weight on the affected foot. Treatment for syndesmosis joint pain typically involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the affected area, as well as the use of pain relievers and physical therapy to promote healing and restore mobility. In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair or reconstruct damaged tissues in the joint.

The anterior tibialis muscle, located in the front of the lower leg, is often implicated in the development of MTSS. This muscle is responsible for dorsiflexion (lifting) of the foot and plays a crucial role in maintaining proper biomechanics during walking and running. When the anterior tibialis muscle is overused or fatigued, it can lead to imbalances in the lower leg and contribute to the development of MTSS. Treatment for MTSS typically involves rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication, as well as the use of supportive footwear or orthotics, and physical therapy to address any underlying biomechanical issues. 

What Causes Shin Splints
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