Shin splints can be painful in athletes and non-athletes. There are many solutions available to help those who suffer, including chiropractic treatment.
What are Shin Splints?
Shin splints (“medial tibial stress syndrome”) is pain in the tibia (shinbone), resulting from physical activity and too much stress on the connective tissues and shinbone. It is most common in basketball, soccer, and tennis players, as well as runners.1 Symptoms include “shooting pain” from the ankle to the knee. The shinbone itself may feel sore. Most shin splints are minor, but they can, if left untreated, lead to a stress fracture.2
Treatment and Prevention
Most shin splints can be resolved with conservative care, such as icing, rest, and wearing proper footwear. Exercise routines will also need modification.3 It is important to avoid working through the pain. More serious injuries need to be prevented. One way of reducing inflammation is massaging the shins with frozen water. Some patients may benefit from taping the shin or using an Ace bandage. Muscle compression limits the movement in the area so that it has time to recover. A medical doctor may suggest anti-inflammatory medications (i.e., aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, etc.), but that only provides temporary relief and doesn’t address the underlying problem. Various athletic insoles are also available to help “soften the blow” when the foot hits the ground. Exercise should be done on more “forgiving surfaces”, such as gravel, grass, wood floors, and even asphalt—not concrete or cement—and it should not be done on hills. Cross-training is another way to rest the shin splints. For example, runners can try cycling or swimming to keep up the exercise while the shins heal. Athletes should always remember to warm up and stretch in order to prevent injuries in the first place.4
Sometimes non-athletes get shin splints too. This is especially true for those who stand on their feet for long stretches (i.e., hairdressers). No matter who has the shin splints, chiropractors have solutions to offer. Treatment from chiropractors “focuses on returning the biomechanics of the foot and knee to proper function…allowing it to heal”. Chiropractors may recommend foot orthotics. In addition, Active Release muscle therapy can decrease spasms and scar tissue. Active Release is a soft tissue therapy in which the practitioner applies precise tension with “specific patient movements”. The treatment is interactive and can produce immediate improvement in strength, pain, and flexibility. Chiropractors will also make sure they treat related conditions, such as runner’s knee and plantar fasciitis.5 Prevention is especially important in chiropractic care. Shin splints are a repetitive injury, and there are certain exercises that can help prevent them. Strengthening the muscles and exercising with proper techniques are the keys to prevention. The Graston Technique can be effective in treating shin splints. It involves “ice, rehab exercises, stretching, and kinesio-taping”. Chiropractors may also perform knee, lower back, SI, ankle, and foot manipulations.6 It is important that patients have properly supported arches, do not overpronate (roll the foot), and have proper joint functioning.7
1, 3 http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/shin-splints/DS00271