I had an incident occur at my school recently that is all too common. A visiting team coach calls me over to look at an athlete with "shin splints". The athlete was wearing two ankle stirrups to help alleviate bilateral medial tibia pain. I watched the player jump and land a few times, and it became obvious there were serious force reduction issues going on. It was particularly troubling because the fall season has just begun.
I wonder if that coach ever saw an athlete land from a routine jump and completely shatter their entire lower leg?
If you are a coach, don't think it can't happen to you. Get the blinders off- a shin splint is a stress reaction in the tibia. In other words, either a precursor to a stress fx, or a stress fx itself. Asking your ATC to tape the shin is a waste of time. If the athlete has a planus or cavus foot structure, an orthotic may help. But more often than not, it's a training progression issue. Don't think this is the A.T.'s responsibility alone. Sport appropriate axial loading exercises that increase bone density must be integrated into your workouts. If you're working with female athletes, it's even more important.
If your athlete presents with these symptoms, listen to your ATC. Rest accompanied by non weight bearing exercise (ie stationary bike, pool) is crucial to prevent further damage. Just because these symptoms appear does not mean the end of the season. Manipulation of work/rest and weight bearing/non weight bearing exercise can allow bone remodeling to take place. I will post more on this topic in the future.