Shin splints can be very difficult to manage. Generally, the only ultimate solution is the ‘off-season’, that’s right, rest.

For keen athletes, this is not an option. There goes pre-training, pre-selection opportunities, pre-season fitness.

The goal of this blog provides some options, both from Chiropractic and Myotherapy perspectives.

But first, let’s define shin splints. This the general name was given to pain at the front of the lower leg. Shin splints is not a diagnosis in itself but a description of symptoms of which there could be a number of causes. The most common cause is inflammation of the periosteum of the tibia (sheath surrounding the bone). Traction forces occur from the muscles of the lower leg on the periosteum.

‘Dr. Andrew Arnold talks about Shin splints and this debilitating, overuse injury.’

This can be caused by running on hard surfaces or running on tiptoes. It is also common in sports where a lot of jumping is involved. If you over pronate then you are also more susceptible to this injury.

Symptoms of shin splints include:

  • Tenderness over the inside of the shin.
  • Lower leg pain.
  • Sometimes some swelling.
  • Lumps and bumps over the bone.
  • Pain when the toes or foot are bent downwards.
  • Redness over the inside of the shin

So now that that’s clear, what can athletes do?

  • Rest. The sooner you rest the sooner it will heal.
  • Apply ice or cold therapy in the early stages when it is very painful. Cold therapy reduces pain and inflammation.
  • Wear shock absorbing insoles in shoes, we recommend Foot Levelers.
  • Maintain fitness with other non-weight bearing exercises, e.g. Pilates, yoga and other isometric core based exercises.
  • Apply heat and use a heat retainer or shin and calf support after the initial acute stage and particularly before training. This can provide support and compression to the lower leg helping to reduce the strain on the muscles.  It will also retain the body’s natural heat. Heat causes blood vessels to dilate and increases the flow of blood to the tissues.
  • Consult a sports Chiro or Myotherapist, preferably who are also Personal Trainers.

What can a sports injury clinic or doctor do?

  • Prescribe anti-inflammatory medication e.g. ibuprofen. (Always consult a doctor before taking medication). Our Naturopaths can provide effective, natural anti-inflammatory and pain supplements to help lessen the need for drug treatments.
  • Tape the ankle for support. – Taping worn all day will allow the shin to rest properly by taking the pressure off the muscle attachments. Our Myotherapists and Personal Trainers can help.
  • Analyze running style for over-pronation and other biomechanical problems of the foot. We can refer to you a specialist, biomechanical podiatrist with equipment specific to gait analysis.
  • Use sports massage techniques on the posterior deep muscle compartment but avoid the inflamed periosteum. Our Myotherapists can also incorporate dry needling and cupping, whilst our Chiropractors can use Interferential therapy.
  • Address the underlying causes such as muscle imbalances. Our Personal Trainers can help here.

Be aware with differential diagnoses:

  • Posterior compartment syndrome
  • Stress fracture
  • Tight calf muscles

Taping for Shin Splints

  • Learn how to apply tape to the shin to reduce pain and aid recovery.
  • Our Personal Trainers / Myotherapists can help you with the right products and techniques. We also have expert orthotists referral partners who can custom fit you for support or brace if required

Know how to stretch. Our Myotherapists and trainers will guide you here.

  • Assess flexibility
  • Stretch the Calf muscles
  • Stretch the Front of the leg.
  • Know how long a stretch should be held?
  • Know how often you should stretch?

Sports Massage and Myotherapist:

  • Learn how can sports massage can benefit treatment?
  • Understand the different Massage techniques
  • Appreciate techniques to avoid with sore shins.

Which products can help with the treatment of shin splints?

At Cranbourne Family Chiropractic and Wellness Ctr we can help with a range of products:

  • Generic shock absorbing insoles to help reduce the shock and impact transmitted through the foot to the lower leg, particularly when running on hard surfaces for long periods of time.
  • Orthotic insoles are firm insoles designed to correct biomechanical dysfunction such as overpronation. They will usually have strong arch support. Off the shelf orthotic insoles are available and suitable for many, although for the perfect fit a Podiatrist will make them specifically for your feet.
  • Shin and calf supports can provide compression and support for the lower leg and retain the body’s natural heat.
  • A slant board is a simple but effective device which helps with accurate and progressive stretching of the calf muscles.
  • There is a range of cold therapy products available which make applying ice or cold therapy simple and convenient.
  • Zinc oxide sports tape is excellent for applying a simple taping technique.

In conclusion, there is light. Be patient and be prepared for at least some recovery downtime.

About the Author:

Dr. Andrew Arnold is the Principal Chiropractor and owner, Cranbourne Family Chiropractic and Wellness Centre, married to Dr. Linda Wilson, the Stress Specialist and has two children, Isaac and Bella. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Category: Chiropractor, Exercise

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