If you have ever experienced shin splints or any other kind of shin pain, you know how it can be an ongoing pain that is often hard to treat yourself. You might think that shin pain only happens to runners, but this issue can happen to anyone who has recently intensified their level of physical activity. So how can you treat shin pain or “shin splints,” and better yet, prevent it from happening in the first place? Read on to learn more.What Causes Shin Pain?
Shin pain, also known as “shin splints”, is a condition caused by inflammation of the tibialis posterior muscle. This muscle runs along the front and inside of the tibia, or “shinbone”. The tibialis posterior muscle helps to produce the movement of your arch flattening and lifting, which is required to make the foot and ankle stable when pushing off during walking or running. Several factors can contribute to overuse and inflammation of tibialis posterior:
- Worn out footwear - A walking or running shoe helps to provide support for the foot and ankle. When a shoe starts to break down the tibialis posterior muscle has to work harder to support the foot and ankle.
- Tight calf muscles - When the calf muscles at the back of the lower leg are tight, they limit the ankle range of motion and cause an increased amount of foot pronation. This forces the tibialis posterior muscle to work harder to work against this tight muscle group.
How to Treat Shin Splints Yourself at Home
- Weak hip and core muscles - Foot and ankle pronation results in inward rotation of the lower leg. Muscles higher up the leg also control the amount of inward rotation that occurs at the ankle.
If you are suffering from shin splints, follow these guidelines:
- Rest the inflamed tissue by finding an activity that involves less weight bearing through your legs, such as cycling or swimming.
- Ice the inflamed area for 15-20 minutes, several times per day.
- Wear shoes indoors to rest and protect the inflamed tissue.
- If your shoes are between 6-12 months old, consider investing in a new pair.
Another great way to treat shin splints is to try some stretches and strengthening exercises to improve the ankle range of motion. See below for a great calf stretch!
Performing strengthening exercises for the hip girdle and the core muscles, like clamshells or squats will also prevent shin splints.
When in Doubt, Seek Help From a Professional
Most cases of shin splints can be treated with rest, ice, and other self-care measures, but you can consult a healthcare professional such as a physiotherapist, to evaluate your condition, and develop a personalized treatment plan for further guidance and intervention as needed.
If you’d like to schedule an appointment through Virtual Care or in-person services, contact Vancity Physio or book an appointment online.