Shin splints are an overload complaint of the tibia. It mainly occurs in athletes and can be present long if not treated properly.
However, with the proper treatment, you can get rid of it in as little as 4 weeks. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve had it and how bad the complaints are. It always works with my patients. You won’t find this treatment anywhere else.
Unfortunately, this treatment is given far too little. This is because it is always assumed that there is inflammation and then massage would only make it worse.
I will explain exactly why this treatment works very well and what exercises you can do to treat your shin splints and ensure that they do not come back.
What are shin splints
Shin splints are considered a shin bone inflammation. However, this is incorrect.
Inflammation has several features that are absent in shin splints.
- A movement restriction
With shin splints, only a few of these symptoms are present. There is often pain and sometimes some swelling, but no warmth or redness. That is why I prefer to speak of shin splint irritation.
Shin splint irritation indicates that there is damage, but not inflammation.
The pain in shin splints is felt purely on the shin bone. When the muscles next to the shin bone hurt, but the shin bone itself doesn’t, you don’t have shin splints. Then you have a muscle problem and need a different treatment.
During the treatment, I”ll show you a photo of where precisely the pain of shin splints is located. Because we no longer speak of inflammation, we can treat it with massage to reduce the irritation. But first, we need to see what causes shin splints to prevent them in the future.
The cause of shin splints
An overload of the lower leg is the main cause of shin splints. Shin splints mainly occur in athletes, especially running. The force exerted on the lower leg during running can irritate the tibia.
When you run, the muscles attached to your shin pull on the bone to transfer force to your foot. When these forces are too great for what your body can handle, the tibia becomes overloaded and irritated.
The overload can be caused because your leg muscles are not strong enough, or because your ankle joint is limited. The limitation increases the load on the muscles in your leg and therefore also on the tibia. We will take all this into account in the treatment of shin splints.
Shin splints treatment with 3 exercises and massage
We are going to treat your shin splints by massaging away the irritation and then strengthening the leg muscles again.
When you palpate your shin bone, you will feel small bumps. It feels a bit like air bubbles and when you put pressure on it, it hurts. This is the irritation and it is causing your shin pain.
What we are going to do is massage these bubbles away. Massage them as hard as possible, because that’s the most effective way. Use massage oil for this, otherwise, you will destroy your skin. It hurts a lot, but that’s okay.
You will notice that the pain slowly decreases as the bubbles disappear. It does give a big reaction, keep this in mind. You can repeat this every day or every other day. It depends on what your skin can handle. In addition to remedying the overload, it is important to do exercises to prevent the complaints from returning. I will now discuss these.
Shin splints exercise 1: Improve the mobility of your ankle
The first exercise against shin splints is aimed at improving ankle mobility. A stiff ankle requires more strength from the leg muscles to be able to move your foot properly and also creates more force on your lower leg muscles while running.
This overloads your leg muscles and also your tibia. The exercise goes as follows:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Stand on your toes with your painful leg
- Now rotate your foot in circles, looking for the extreme position of the ankle.
- Do this both clockwise and counterclockwise
- Repeat the exercise several times a day
You can also find the performance of the exercise in this video.
Shin splints exercise 2: Stretching the calf muscles
The 2nd exercise is aimed at stretching the calf muscles.
Tight calf muscles can deliver less force so that the other leg muscles have to compensate. This ultimately also creates more force on the tibia, which can lead to shin splints.
Perform the exercise like this:
- Place your feet in a line in front of each other, with your sore foot behind. Then bend your front knee and keep your back knee straight
- Now move your hips forward until you feel the stretch in your calf
- Hold this for 20 seconds
You can also watch this YouTube video to perform the exercise. Do this exercise twice a day.
This exercise also helps with calf pain.
Shin splints exercise 3: Training the calf muscles
The third exercise against shin splints focuses on training the calf muscles.
When your calf muscles are too weak, the muscles at the front of your leg compensate, causing shin splints. Your calf muscles are the most active muscles during running and therefore the biggest risk factor for developing shin splints.
Perform the exercise as follows:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Then slowly stand on your toes.
- Then slowly lower yourself back down
- If this went easy, you can also do it on one leg
You can also find the performance of the exercise in this YouTube video.
Do this exercise three times in a row and twice a day. If the exercise becomes too easy, you can increase it to 15 or 20 repetitions.
This exercise also helps against plantar fasciïtis.
There is a lot you can do yourself to treat your shin splints. If you have any questions left after this article you can send me an e-mail and I’ll try to help you further.