By Dr. Jeff Stripling, Denver Chiropractic Center
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home: that wildness is a necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
– John Muir
After my run last night, the pain in my lower leg is not feeling too bad. I am still experiencing ‘tibial stress syndrome’ or shin splints but it is nothing to prevent climbing Mt Quandry tommorrow. Shin Splints are most often caused by overuse, increasing intensity/duration of training, and activities that require sudden stops and starts. Shin splints happen when muscle fibers in the muscles that stabalize and move the ankle/foot tear from their periosteal attachment. After the initial injury, these muscles become fibrotic during the healing phase which can exacerbate the pain with increased activity.
The best thing that can be done for shin splints is Active Release Technique (ART). ART will break up the fibrotic tissues, scar tissue, and adhesions that limit range of motion and cause pain. Icing can also be used to relieve pain and inflammation, using a styrofoam cup filled with frozen water, tear off the top edge of cup so the ice is exposed and gripping the covered bottum, massage painful areas for 8-10 minutes. Rest for 30 min and repeat for another 8-10 min.
Stretching and strengthening are also great ways to decrease the amount of discomfort you feel and to prevent recurring shin splints. One stretch that I use is get into a forward lunge position and plantar flex your back foot (so the top side of foot is on the ground), you should feel a stretch on the front side of your lower leg. Hold for 15 sec and repeat 5 times on each leg. There are many exercises to do prevent shin splints, one exercise is the 4 way range of motion exercise. Move your foot/ankle into dorsiflexion (toes pointing up), plantar flexion (toes pointing down), eversion, and inversion. Complete all 4 movements 10x each on both legs.
To prevent shin splints from overuse, it is a good idea to only increase your milage 10% each week. This will allow the shin muscles (tibialis anterior, extensor hallicus longus, extensor digitorum longus) to strengthen without creating microtears in the tissue. Shin splints are not something that you “just have to put up with,” come in the office and we will get you back to living/training without pain. DONT PUT UP WITH PAIN!