So this post is about a specific injury generally termed ‘Shin Splints’. Shin splints just means pain in the shin. This can be pain which radiates up the front of the shin (anterior) or in the inside (medial) area of the calf (known as posterior). Pain occurs from the muscles slightly coming away from the bone due to excess stress. The gastrocnemius and soleus are the key muscle involved in decelerating the foot when it strikes the ground (more heavily utilised in toe striking). When we don’t stretch or loosen our calfs enough, this causes other muscle groups to be utilised which if not strong enough can cause injury.
The aforementioned is the most common reason shin splints can occur. The other is slightly more complicated. Our big toe has a muscle which attaches underneath it called the posterior tibialis which runs underneath the foot and insert medially just under the knee . Nowwhen our foot strikes the floor, the post. tib. Fires to help control the speed and stabilise the foot as it strikes the ground.
If our big toe joint (1st metatarsal joint) doesn’t function properly our post. tib. has to overwork and thus can tighten and can actually cause the medial pain termed as shin splints. Now when I say doesn’t function properly it could mean that the joint is stiff so the big toe cannot work as a propulsive lever. Another reason may be that the joint may sit higher than all the other metatarsals or lower, this causes added instability and thus overworking of the posterior tibialis!
So now you know where they come from how can you treat them? Well, first of all rest and ice are the key answers. If it’s a muscular reason make sure plenty of stretching and strengthening takes place on the gastro-soleus to make is as loose as possible. If it’s to do with the posterior tibialis, roll the foot under a rolling pin or a golf ball to help relieve and tightness under the foot. If you have a feeling it’s to do with metatarsal alignment then a custom insole is most likely your long term answer!
Taping can be a good solution for recovery, the tape adds a level of support like a second skin. As it is applied with tension it can also increase blood flow to the area and aid recovery speed. Lastly, tape can be a great pyschological help to make you feel like you being held together!
I hope this all makes sense any questions let me know ✌️