Shin Splint Treatment Requires More Than Just Rest
As runners continue their training toward the Chicago marathon or other races upcoming this fall, it is important to ensure that runners change their shoes every 250-300 miles depending on wear and tread while running. One of a few common injuries occurring while running and training are shin splints. When individuals think they have suffered this injury and visit their medical doctor, the doctor tells them to rest and ice. Although rest and ice do help to alleviate some shin splint discomfort, they do not fix the problem. They are merely a band-aid and one should consider alternative measures to treating shin splints outside of these 2 measures. I will address and discuss effective treatment options for shin splints that will allow you to miss minimal time as you near your race and/or continue training.
If one believes they have shin splints, one should seek out a sports chiropractor or a chiropractor specializing Active Release Techniques (ART) to address and treat this. These 2 types of chiropractors (or 1 if he/she is certified in both sports and ART) will address your injuries by manipulation of the ankle, foot, and pelvis, stretching of the lower leg (shin and/or calf) and hip muscles, and provide you with corrective exercises to help your shin splints. Manipulation will address a lack of movement through the pelvis, ankle, and foot whereby tight muscles restrict their motion. ART will improve flexibility of the muscles and tendons that are restricting movement due to how tight these tissues become from overuse due to running. Lastly, corrective exercises seek to enhance ankle mobility, lower leg flexibility (shins and/or calves), and improve function so you can continue to run. It is important to know what kinds of corrective exercises to focus on so you are not spending a lot of time trying to rehab your shin splints. This makes your recovery more efficient.
Corrective exercises should address ankle mobility as one’s ankles are often tight from running several times weekly. Ankle mobility helps to increase movement of the ankle joint to loosen the muscles that cross the ankle as they move both the ankle and foot. Stretching the shin muscles (there are 4 muscles that can cause shin splints, 3 in the front of the shin and one that runs alongside the inside of your calf along your shin bone) for at least 30 seconds several minutes on each side daily a few days per week will prove helpful. Also, strengthening your glutes and feet (deeper muscles of the foot) for a few minutes daily too with resistance bands and/or free weights a few days per week will minimize tension placed onto the shin and lower leg.
These components alongside having the proper running shoes will reduce the risk of shin splints developing and keep you running through your season. Happy running!