What is it?
Shin splints, what a pain in the shin! How do these happen? First, let’s go over the anatomy. The shin muscle (anterior tibialis) is the muscle that goes in the front of the leg from the foot up to the knee. It helps your foot to move up, so your toe comes up when the shin muscle is engaged. This happens every time you take a step so that you don’t kick your toe on the ground and trip. If you have ever known or seen someone who has a drop foot, where the foot slaps the ground when they walk, it is because the anterior tibialis is not working.
What Causes It?
When you have shin splints, often it is due to abnormal foot strike pattern, footwear that’s too worn down to be able to support you, or even hiking uphill for an extended time because you are raising the foot up over and over. If you change your biomechanics while you are running it can also cause some of the familiar pain.
What Can I do About It?
Thankfully there are a couple of great things that you can do in order to help decrease pain in the front of the shin. The first thing is to stretch the muscles on the front of the shin. The shin muscle is attached to a bone in the ankle, so you must move this joint to stretch it. What you can do is get on your hands and knees with your feet pointed behind you, and then sit back on your heels. When you sit back you should feel the stretch on the front of the shin.
The second exercise to do is simple ankle pumps, which will get the muscles pumping in the lower leg. You can do this lying down, sitting, or standing. Simply move your ankle up and down, pointing and lifting your toes repeatedly. Repeat this exercise for 30 reps. This is simple range of motion, if you are lying down or sitting, so it should not feel super painful, but sometimes it can be a little bit of a stretch or a little bit of discomfort. Getting the motion back and forth can really help to decrease irritation.
The last thing to do would be to contact your local physical therapist—us at Proof Physical Therapy—and purchase a cryosphere. Or… you can use a piece of ice and do what’s called an ice massage on the front part of that shin, but then your hands would get cold and you’d make a mess as it melts, so that’s where the cryosphere becomes really handy. Do the ice massage for two, three minutes max, moving up and down the sore area constantly. This really helps to make a huge difference in decreasing some of that pain and irritation.
If you tried all these things and they have helped, we would absolutely love to hear about it, so drop us a comment in the box below. If you tried all these things and they are not helping quite as much, we would love to be able to help you out. If you are interested in buying a cryosphere, we can also help hook you up with one of those too. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
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