Shin splints is caused by muscle tightness in the tibialis anterior muscle or the tibialis posterior muscle. Where the muscle and tendon attach the bone can become irritated and cause pain. Often the pain will either be felt in the front of the shin or in the back side of the shin, and this is often an overuse injury. If you’re just getting into running for the first time, or you’re increasing your mileage, or you’re increasing your activity or sport, that bump in activity will cause extra tension or tightness in that muscle which will cause irritation to where that muscle attaches to the bone.
So a lot of times what with need to do is we need to loosen up the tension in the muscle and then that will help take pressure off where that muscle attaches to the bone. There are four main treatment techniques we use in the office to help speed up the recovery and to loosen up the tension.
One technique is called laser therapy, and laser therapy helps to reduce any pain and inflammation in the area. It also accelerates the healing process. So if someone’s dealing with an acute case of shin splints, it can really accelerate that process and get the patient feeling better faster.
The other techniques are designed at loosening up the tension in the muscle in both the tibialis anterior and the tibialis posterior. One technique is called dry needling technique. With dry needling we insert small acupuncture needles into the tight muscles to help release tension. This technique is effective for treating the deep chronic tension areas where the muscle is really tough to stretch and loosen up.
Often with dry needling the patient will feel a dull achy sensation when we are treating the problem area. The needles are only left in a few minutes. We don’t need to leave them in for extended periods of time like with acupuncture. This technique is designed specifically just to release trigger points or knots that form in the muscle and that are causing any muscular discomfort.
The next technique we’re going to use to treat the tibialis interior muscle is Graston technique. With Graston technique there is a specific treatment instrument we’re going to use to help loosen up the tightness. This technique massages out any knots or tightness that have formed in this tibialis interior muscle. This is more of a mechanical way of massaging out the tightness and helping to loosen the knot that has formed in this muscle.
Often when the patient feels with this technique is she may feel some ridges or bumps as we go over any tight areas that have formed in this muscle here. With each treatment the patient will feel less tightness and a decrease in the patients pain symptoms.
The third technique we’re going to use to help with the shin splint is we’re going to do some Active Release Techniques on the muscle. With Active Release Techniques we are going to put the muscle through a range of motion while contact the muscle. This technique helps to loosen up trigger points or knots that have formed in the muscle.
The biggest side effect of the treatments is muscle soreness like you worked out. This will go away within six to twelve hours after the treatment. Staying hydrated will help decrease any muscle soreness you may feel.
For more acute and painful shin splint cases what we’ll use is laser therapy to help reduce any pain and inflammation in the area. If you are suffering from a moderate to severe case laser therapy will help get rid of the pain. The benefit of this is it can get very deep as opposed to our hands, so again, it can penetrate really deep right where the attachment is and where the inflammation is located. The patient just feels a really mild, warm sensation. It feels really comfortable. Acute cases of shin splints take four to eight treatments to resolve while chronic cases can take up to 12 treatments to resolve, but usually within four treatments patients are usually 50% better or more.
In addition to treating the patient in the office, at home the patient can actually help accelerate this healing process even more. One way to loosen up the muscles at home is use a massage roller like the Roll Recovery R8. This roller or massage tool massages up and down the muscle and the front of their shin or in the back side of the shin and help to loosen up tightness. Very effective treatment technique for shin splints and lower leg or calf issues.
The other thing we’ll have patients do is after they run or play a sport, we’ll have them ice the painful area and we’ll also have them gently stretch that area as well and use the ROLL Recovery. Stretch and roll the tight muscles before and after you exercise or play your sport.
If you’re dealing with shin splints, give our office a call at (703) 912-7822 or you can visit us at Novachirowellness.com.