I myself suffered from Shin Splints for a long period of time and in part they are how I got into Soft tissue therapy and sports massage in the first place. Yet I’ve never written a blog about it!
My own experience was as a runner and was shoe related, it took me a long time and a lot of work, including changing my gait cycle and running position. Working through many pairs of shoes to work out what the problem was for me.
The main reason it took so long was:-
A. I was trying to work it out myself and
B. at the time I didn’t have any practical physiological knowledge to work from. So it really was a process of trial and error.
I’m not going to go into detail about what worked for me as this could set you off along the wrong path, there are a number of causes of shin splints and without understanding the root cause, it’s very difficult to apply a treatment. I’ve seen posts such as top ten shoes for shin splints. How can this be possible as the cause may not be the shoes and certain shoe types will make it worse depending on the cause!
The following article is taken from Sports injury clinic.net
Details all of the physiological possibilities, self help and treatments along with stretches and exercises. Don’t do what I did all those years ago, instead seek professional advice.
I can diagnose your particular issue within one session, offer treatment advice and solutions that will get you on the road to recovery in days not months! Call me on 07980 339 864 0r Click here
Shin splints is not a specific injury itself but are the common name often given to pain at the front of the lower leg of which there may be a number of causes. The most common cause is medial tibial stress syndrome.
Here we explain the symptoms, treatment, and rehabilitation of medial tibial stress syndrome to cure and prevent it recurring.
Shin splints symptoms
Symptoms of medial tibial stress syndrome often come on gradually and consist of pain over the inside lower part of the tibia or shin bone.
There may be a pain at the start of exercise which often eases as exercise continues only to come back worse later in the training session or afterward.
Pain in the shin is often worse first thing in the morning but may ease off over time as the tissues warm up, only to become painful again later on in the day. When pressing in (palpating) along the shin, tenderness, swelling, lumps, and bumps may be felt along the inside of the bone, particularly in more chronic cases.
This is because new bone growth has occurred in response to repeated trauma. Occasionally in severe cases reddening of the skin over the inside of the leg from acute inflammation may be seen.
It is an overuse injury resulting from too much running or jumping and not enough recovery time. Although too much running, jumping or sprinting is the obvious cause, there are a number of factors which can increase the likelihood of shin pain developing: Such as increasing running mileage too quickly, excessive training on hard surfaces or running on your toes such as in sprint training. Certain bio-mechanical factors can also increase the risk of developing medial tibial stress syndrome.
occurs when the foot rolls inwards too much flattening the arch of the foot and causing the lower leg to rotate inwards. This, in turn, increases the stress on the soft tissues of the lower leg resulting in pain and inflammation.
is where the foot rolls outwards too much. If you think you have suspected biomechanical issues then a professional can do gait analysis tests either with a treadmill or using force plates to determine this and whether corrective orthotic inserts for your shoes are needed.
such as the wrong type of shoe for your running style or running shoes that are just too old and have lost their support and cushioning can cause injury. Overpronators may require a running shoe with a firmer midsole on the inside to reduce the amount of rolling in (known as a stability shoe or motion control shoe). Supinators usually require a neutral shoe with plenty of cushioning. A specialist running shop can advise.
Increasing training too quickly is one of the more common causes of shin splints. Running on hard surfaces or on your toes as in sprinting and generally doing too much too soon will increase the risk of injury.
Poor flexibility (tight calf muscles) at the ankle can cause increased stress on the soft tissues, muscles, and tendons of the lower leg when running. The calf muscles and in particular the tibialis posterior muscle may need stretching.
Shin splints treatment
Treating shin splints involves reducing pain and inflammation, identifying and correcting training errors and biomechanical problems and restoring muscles to their original condition through stretching, exercises, and massage. The full rehabilitation process may take anywhere from 3 weeks to 12 weeks.
Apply the PRICE principles of protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation to reduce initial pain and inflammation. Apply a cold therapy and compression wrap to the painful area of the shin for 10 minutes every hour initially for the first 24 to 48 hours, reducing frequency to 3 or 4 times a day as symptoms improve.
The tissues are very superficial so ice does not need to be applied for longer than 10 minutes. Do not apply ice directly to the skin as it may burn. Either wrap ice in a wet tea towel or use a commercially available cold pack.
Rest is so important and often overlooked. This means resting from any activity that makes the condition worse such as running, jumping and other high impact sports.
Very severe shin splints may require complete rest for a few days but you should aim to maintain an exercise routine by switching to swimming, cycling, cross trainer, rowing machines, step machines and other nonimpact equipment.
as most people have to be on their feet during the day it may not be possible to rest the tissues of the lower leg as much as required.
Shin splints taping can instantly relieve symptoms in most patients can be applied all the time until the pain has gone and then occasionally during exercise as activities levels are built up.
The simple taping technique supports the muscles of the lower leg by pulling them towards the shin bone reducing traction forces at the most painful part and allowing the soft tissues (muscle, tendon etc) to rest.
Protect and support the area with a shin splint sleeve or compression support. This will help keep the muscles warm and supple as well as providing support to the inflamed tissues.
Wearing shock absorbing insoles in shoes particularly if you run or walk on hard surfaces in poorly cushioned shoes will help reduce the shock on the lower leg. Switch to wearing softer training shoes rather than hard leather work shoes if possible until symptoms go.
(I caveat all the above with the disclaimer that it DEPENDS on your circumstances and NEEDS assessment!!)
What can a professional do?
Medication – A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication e.g. ibuprofen to help reduce pain and inflammation. Although this should not be relied on as a long-term solution or excuse not to rest. Asthmatics should not take Ibuprofen.
Sports massage & myofascial release – After the first 3 days, massage can be used to reduce tension in the muscles of the lower leg which may be causing traction on the bone.
Removing any tight lumps, bumps, and knots as well as encouraging blood flow may aid the healing process. This should initially be quite light and avoid the inflamed periosteum close to the bone. Gradually become deeper over subsequent treatments as pain eases.
Massage techniques should include sustained pressure along the length of the muscles as well as transverse frictions. It is important the massage therapist avoids the bone as this can make symptoms worse. However, it is important to avoid the bone as massage for shin pain done incorrectly may increase inflammation and pain.
Surgery – If all conservative treatment fails then surgery is an option, although this is rare and should be considered a very last resort.
For consultation, assessment and treatment call me on 07980 339 864 or Book here