Shin Splints – Prevention and Healing
Shin splints are a sharp sore to touch the pain, felt in the shaft of the shin bone. Shin splints are a nagging overuse injury often found in runners that can lead to stress fractures. The issue with the injury s that it will creep up on you. It never starts out with immense pain; it just slowly gets a bit worse day by day and week by week. Many athletes hope the injury goes away without doing anything and this is often a failing strategy. We are going to change that today!
Think about the story of the frog in boiled water vs. the frog in boiling water. The frog in boiled water will jump out right away because of the heat. A frog in water that is gradually boiling will not notice the temperature changing until it is too late and the frog dies. This is how seasons get ended from shin splints. It is very gradual warming that you do not think will be a big problem at first.
Sports Susceptible to Shin Splints
- Track and field – Training and putting large forces through hard surfaces
- Cross country – Traithe ning on pavement and high volumes of running
- Basketball – From running on the hard court and al of the jumping and landing.
- Any sports that play on harder surfaces
Causes of Shin Splints
- Irritated or overused lower leg muscles
- Stress fractures to the shin bone which are tiny cracks in the bone
- Flat feet cause the knee to collapse and due to the shin bone over-rotating during foot impact
- Weak hip muscles
- Weak or tight calf muscles
- Change in shoes
- Change in training surface
- Weak shin muscle
Shin splints are always due to overuse. Any stress fracture is created from the bone not being able to handle the forces placed on it. In this case, the tibia bone is meant to be protected by the calf, the anterior and posterior tibialis, and the soleus. If any of these muscles cannot carry the load, it gets passed to other muscles and then eventually to the bone.
Once it gets passed to the bone, you are in trouble because bones provide the structure, but they are not supposed to absorve tonnes of force. Muscles are made to produce and absorb these forces.
Symptoms of Shin Splints
- Running becomes painful for lower legs
- Hurts to touch shins
- Posterior tibialis is so tight that it is sore to touch
Shin splints make the tibia very painful to touch. If you run your finger along the shaft of the bone or just behind the bone over the posterior tibialis, you will notice a lot of tenderness. Any tenderness in this area represents the beginning stages of shin splints.
If you are taking steps or running and feeling pain in the shin, that means you already have a full bone case of shin splints. The progression if things keep getting worse looks like this:
- Shin Splints
- Stress Reaction
- Stress Fracture
Treatment for Shin Splints
When it comes to treatment, there is a lot of different options. The best is the combination of strengthening the lower leg and getting manual therapy done. By strengthening the lower leg, you are making sure that the muscles can take on more forces. When they can do this, they give the tibia less to take on.
When it comes to manual therapy, techniques like Graston, massage, and Active Release work well. What they do is break up the knots and trigger points that have developed in the lower leg so muscles can work appropriately through their entire range of motion.
- The decrease in training volume
- Tibialis anterior and posterior strengthening
- In a walking cast for a few weeks if there is a stress fracture
- Ice for acute pain day to day
- Use of orthotics
- Physical therapy rehab routine
- Treatment on calves and lower legs
Prevention of Shin Splints
The best way to look at prevention is doing things you do if you were hurt while you are healthy. Any rehab program you have been given in the past can be used to prevent the injury from happening in the future. With shin splints, it comes down to managing your volumes, stretching the lower leg as well as strengthening it. If you get these things right, you will always be able to manage shin problems.
- Responding early to lower leg pain
- Regular bodywork on lower legs and feet
- The decrease in training volume
- Taking recovery days after hard workouts
- Increasing strength in lower legs
Eccentric Calf Raises
Eccentric calf raises are going to be your bread and butter. The key to doing these is only using one leg when going down slowly but use two legs to go back up. They allow you to go heavier and get the calf used to handling on a lot of force.
- Go up on your toes with two feet quickly
- Then slowly come back down with one foot with a five-second count
- Repeat this 10 -20 times
- Use a calf machine to add weight
Dorsiflexion With Bands
Always have a pair of TheraBands in your bag. Not only can they help with preventing shin splints but they can also help with preventing ankle sprains. These exercises can be done in 10 minutes. All you have to do is tie the band to a pole and resist your ankle in as many different directions that you can, and you will go a long way in improving your lower body strength.
- Tie band to a pole or an object that will NOT move
- Curl toes toward your face
- Bring foot towards your face
- Hold for three seconds
- Slowly put a foot in pointed position
More Resources for Shin Splints
What if The Hip and Back Stretches Do Not Work?
Sometimes you can stretch all you want, but a muscle is tight because another area is not working or because it is protecting you. With the shins, for example, your calves may be tight because they are overloaded. That makes the anterior tibialis overloaded and puts more stress on the tibia bone.
Sometimes you need the help of a sports medicine provider. Sports medicine providers are used to working with athletes that need to get results quickly, to get back on the field. If you are not an athlete, I am sure that you still want quick results.
There are many different options you can go with when looking for a provider. You could get a chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist or many other options. The key is finding someone you trust and that you are excited to work with.
How to Find The Best Healthcare Providers
9INE POINT Health is the best place to find the health care providers you need for any injuries. It does not matter where you are hurting; a 9INE POINTHealth provider will be able to get you healthy again. 9INE POINT allows you to find the best local providers and compare them quickly using the 9INE POINT Number.
If you have no idea what you need, but you know you need something, 9INE POINT Health is an injury guide, and you will get helped through the process. We make it easier for you to find the information and the person you are looking for to help with your shin splints.
KHO Health was acquired by was acquire by 9INE POINT in the summer of 2019 and is now referred to as 9INE POINT Health.