Shin Splints

 

Shin Splints are a condition that result in pain along the boarder of the tibia (shinbone). These nasty little demons can be tamed with a little TLC. The pain is a result of the muscles tugging on the lining of your shinbone. If the stress of running exceeds your body’s ability to strengthen the area, your shin begins to hurt. Training errors and foot mechanics affect this area substantially. Be sure to read Principles of Recovery. There are two locations that shin splints develop; the treatment is slightly different for each location.

 

A) Medial tibial stress syndrome is the term for shin splints that affect the inner border of the tibia (shinbone). If you firmly rub your finger along the inner border of the tibia you should be able to locate the sore area. Pain is more commonly felt in the middle third of the shin but can be higher or lower.

 

Treatments:

  • See Principles of Recovery.
  • Insoles or orthotics (custom foot supports) may help support the foot so that the muscles that attach to the shin don’t have to work as hard or as long.
  • Gentle stretching of the calf muscles two to three times per day often speeds recovery. The bent knee calf stretch is particularly effective, you should stretch firmly enough to feel a gentle stretch in the painful area. See bent knee calf stretches and straight knee calf stretches.
  • Ice is particularly effective and should be applied after each run. For a fast and furious approach, try an ice massage as described in Principles of Recovery.
  • Don’t forget strengthening and balance training. You’ll be amazed at how well this works, especially if you have been struggling with shin splints for a while. The Injured Runner – A Balanced Solution provides you with running specific exercises that can help beat shin splints.
  • An anti-inflammatory cream could be used to reduce the pain and inflammation. Talk to your doctor about transdermal anti-inflammatories.
  • Massaging the muscle tissue along the border of the shin often speeds recovery. Simply use your thumb and some lotion to stroke upward along the shinbone. Some people will do this in the shower or tub to loosen it up at the start of the day. I haven’t had much success doing this prior to a run – it seems to make it more sore.
  • Bare foot walking for 2-5 minutes helps to strengthening the foot muscles which will decrease the strain on the shin area. This works best in a grassy area but is also benificial if a sidewalk is your only option.

B) Anterior lateral tibial stress syndrome is the term for shin splints that affect the outer border of the tibia (shinbone). If you firmly rub your finger along the front, outer border of the tibia you should be able to locate the sore area. The muscles that attach to this portion of the tibia (dorsiflexors) lift your toes toward your shin. This group of muscles are actually the most used muscles during running - they are active for a greater portion of the running cycle than any other muscle.


Treatments:

  • See Principles of Recovery.
  • Stretching does wonders to improve these shin splints. If your calf muscles are tight this will create more work for these muscles (dorsiflexors) and hence more stress on the bone. Perform the bent knee calf stretches and straight knee calf stretches. two to three times per day. Stretching the dorsiflexor muscles will also help workout the soreness in this area. See bent knee calf stretches and straight knee calf stretches. as well as dorsiflexor stretch.
  • Ice is particularly effective and should be applied after each run. For a fast and furious approach, try ice massage as described in Principles of Recovery.
  • Balanced Solution DVD
  • Strengthening of the dorsiflexors is often very effective for these shin splints. One way to strengthen them is by walking on your heels for a couple of minutes. If heel walking is painful, try doing the same movement while seated in a chair. Perform several repetitions – these are endurance muscles. The Injured Runner – A Balanced Solution also presents a strengthening exercise for these muscles.
  • Massaging the muscle on the front of the shin helps reduce the pain. You can massage your self by sliding your fingers along the front, outer border of the shin working upwards towards your knee.
  • An anti-inflammatory cream could be used to reduce the pain and inflammation. Talk to your doctor about transdermal anti-inflammatories.
  • Insoles, or orthotics (custom foot supports) may help support the foot so that the muscles that attach to the shin don’t have to work as hard or as long.