Treating Shin Splints Pain
Treating shin splints pain is simple – when you know how to find the source of the pain and you aren’t just treating a symptom.
Repetitive strain injury is the cause of shin splints but the spasms (muscle knots) are deep in the muscle so treating the surface will be less than successful.
Treating the Muscles That Cause Shin Splints:
First it’s important to understand the muscles that cause shin splints and why runners are so prone to this condition.
The primary muscle involved with shin splints is your tibialis anterior. This muscle is just to the outside of your shin bone.
Your tibialis anterior muscle runs along the entire length of your shinbone on the outside of the bone and then crosses over the front of your ankle to insert into your arch.
This muscle is responsible for picking up the front of your foot so you can take a step, for lifting the inside of your foot off the ground and for shifting your weight onto the outside of your foot.
To feel the muscle contract, lift your big toe and arch off the floor.
Every step you take is contracting your tibialis anterior muscle but the steps are coming so quickly that the muscle doesn’t have the chance to fully lengthen after each step.
If you have a tendency of running with pressure along the outside of your foot, you are increasing your chance of getting shin splints.
When you are running the muscle is being contracted over and over causing it to shorten due to a phenomenon called “muscle memory.”
Muscle memory states that when a muscle is repetitively moved in the same direction or held in a contraction for a period of time, the body is trained into that position and will change the length of the muscle to the now shorter length.
Muscle memory works great when you’re learning how to do a task and you’re training the muscles to do that task, but it works against you when the body is shortening a muscle that is supposed to be longer. Fortunately, treating shin splints by releasing the tension is an easy way to retrain your muscle to be its correct length.
A Secondary Muscle for Treating Shin Splints:
While not a primary muscle for treating shin splints pain, your Tibialis Posterior will cause pain along the back side of your tibia bone. As this occurs you will feel the pain in the bone, but your brain will register it as coming from the front of the bone.
Your tibialis posterior muscle also causes you to roll toward the outside of your foot, and it is one of the muscles responsible for you to press the front of your foot down so you can propel with power for your next step. This repetitive motion is also happening rapidly, giving the muscle little time to fully lengthen.