Shin splints are commonly a tightness and resulting painful condition causing the shins to be quite painful. At its worst, it can result in Osgood Schlatter disease, a minor separation of the top of the tibia just below the knee that leaves a bump when the child stops growing.
The common wisdom is stretching and rest, and unfortunately, this is the advice given in a recent NY Times answer (read here).
Shin splints are actually just a symptom of problems resulting from the way you walk. It is most common in those with flexible flat arches and those whose feet flare out. These types of people are referred to as overpronators.
When the foot is shaped like this, it works inefficiently, and the tendons of the peroneal and tibialis muscles must work harder. The result is the surrounding myofascia (connective tissue) shortens, the muscles which insert directly into the bone can irritate and even become scarred at their insertions, causing pain along the shin bone.
Also, gait asymmetries which are quite uncommon combined with overpronation will cause a shorter gait and problems with impact leading to many common running injuries which are avoidable.
Three things that work to get relief.
1. Wear foot orthotics – Affects the efficiency of the foot, and improves the angle these muscles work at. As an added bonus, your knee and hips will work better too as well as your upper body.
2. Myofascial release to the surrounding muscles. Often the calf or soleus which is deep in the calf also is causing the pain and this should be evaluated by a qualified health care practitioner such as a chiropractic sports physician.
3. Manipulation to the foot will offer relief since an ankle that is tight will have foot bones that are restricted. Chiropractors can help relieve this which makes myofascial release more effective and can even help you relieve lower back pain because many types of hip and back pain begin with a dysfunctional foot.
4. Perform Foot Drills – Shoes weaken the intrinsic muscles in the feet. The antidote is foot drills which are a series of exercises done regularly which strengthen the feet and can reduce the likelihood of plantar fasciitis.
Chiropractic manipulation is safe and effective and many runners, as well as dancers, will appreciate the improved flexibility felt in the other parts of the leg and back.
Do you need help with shin pain? Request an appointment here.