There's barely an athlete out there who hasn’t suffered from shin pain at some point in their career. Paul Hobrough, a physiotherapist and author of Running Free of Injuries (Bloomsbury, £18.99), says he sees “a tsunami of shin pain sufferers each year” and Matt Todman, director of the Six Physio chain of physiotherapy clinics in London, says it is among the most common problems he treats among patients.
In most cases, pain at the front of the leg will be diagnosed as ‘shin splints’, an umbrella term for multiple different possible diagnoses ranging from muscle DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) to tendonitis and periostitis.
What are shin splints?
Known medically as medial tibial stress syndrome (or MTSS), the condition causes pain on the lower, inside part of the shin bone and while it initially might feel painful during exercise, it can progress to feeling sore even during periods of rest.
“My belief is that we have become overly diagnostic in labelling some injuries and problems,” says Todman. “Shin splints are a case in point and you may have been given very complex-sounding names for pain in the front of your leg. Basically, it’s all shin splints.”
What causes it?
There are multiple causes and no case of shin splints is the same. “Risk factors have been shown to be increased BMI, poor alignment of the bones in the f