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  • Karen Stoner, LMT

About My Aches: Shin Splints

About my aches: Shin Splints

What is it?

The large, long bone that runs along the front of the lower leg is the tibia. When the legs are used in extreme conditions, such as intense workouts or large amounts of walking, the connective tissue that attaches the bone to the muscles surrounding it can become irritated and inflamed. It is medically known as "Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome".

What does it feel like?

Pain that radiates up and around the shin, or the front of the lower leg. The pain could be more throbbing in a particular area, or could be sharp and feel like it is shooting up and down the whole lower leg. Most often, it is felt on the inner side of the leg. The pain is usually worse or is felt most when the legs are being used such as during exercise. Occasionally the front of the leg may also feel warm or inflamed and tender to the touch.

What causes it?

Intense exercise or activities that results in overuse of the legs. Repetitive activities that put a lot of strain or pressure on the legs, especially weight-bearing activities such as walking, running, and jumping can cause the irritation of the lower legs. Dancers, athletes, postal employees who walk routes, and military personnel are often the people who most suffer from shin splints.

Can Massage help?

Massage of the muscles surrounding the tibia can help increase flexibility and stretch the muscles, which may help ease the pain of shin splints since these muscles don't stretch easily on their own. Light massage such as lymphatic drainage-style work along the shins can help drain and calm inflammation. Additionally, massage of the calf muscles can lose up the back of the lower leg, which helps relieve pain and improves the muscle conditions and movement in the front of the leg. Massage of the feet, hips, and lows back can also help balance the body and make sure that an imbalance of tight muscles in other places attached to the legs isn't contributing to the pull on the shins.

About my aches - shin splints

What can I do on my own?

If shin splints are actively aching, rest and ice are the best self-treatments. Easing up on exercise will also help shin splints calm down. Before exercising, make sure the muscles in the legs are very warmed up and loose before getting started or stretching. Never stretch cold muscles to avoid pulling at the connective tissue. Also make sure that whatever shoes are being worn during the activity fit properly with appropriate arch support. If simple home remedies don't work, a doctor may need to be consulted to rule out a stress fracture or other more serious issues.

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