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“Shin splints”, more correctly referred to as “Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome” (MTSS), is a common injury that affects many runners.  It seems to be particularly prevalent at this time of year with so many winter sports in their pre-season phase of training.  In addition to correcting biomechanics and other causative factors, new research has supported the role of kinesiology tape in the treatment, and possible prevention, of MTSS.

In the Griebert study, 20 healthy subjects without recent lower limb injury were tested alongside 20 subjects with either current or previous MTSS.  All subjects were tested before tape application, immediately after tape, and then after 24 hours of tape wear.  The subjects were required to walk across a pressure plate that measured forces on six different zones of the foot- medial and lateral for the forefoot, midfoot and rearfoot.  The researchers then worked out the time taken to reach peak force for each of the six zones for each condition.  The tape was applied along the line of the tibialis posterior muscle.

The results of the study found that prior to tape application there was a difference between the groups with regard to medial midfoot pressures.  The MTSS subjects reached their peak force more quickly, indicating a higher loading rate than the healthy subjects.  The tape application didn’t significantly alter the healthy foot function, but in those with MTSS when they were taped, they had a slower time to peak force for the lateral forefoot and medial midfoot.  This indicates a decreased rate of loading on the foot, closer to that of the healthy subjects.

The authors concluded that the kinesiology tape has a proprioceptive effect that may assist with pre-activation of tibialis posterior.  Due to the fact that not all MTSS subjects had current symptoms but changes in loading rates/patterns were still observed, the authors suggested that this kinesiology taping application may be able to be used as a preventative strategy for those susceptible to MTSS.

Griebert, M.C., Needle, A.R., McConnell, J., & Kaminski, T.W., (in press).  Lower leg kinesio tape reduces rate of loading in participants with medial tibial stress syndrome. Physical Therapy in Sport doi.org/10.1016/j.ptsp.2014.01.001

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