Running injuries effect millions of americans every year which prevents them from attaining their goal. This goal may be running a marathon or running as a way to lose weight. The problem with running is that it is a very repetitive task that can cause a laundry list of painful conditions. These conditions are similar in any repetitive based activity. Unfortunetely, runners have not yet had an injury named after the activity itself even though they could have several. Let us take a look at other sports which have repetitive activities in which the injury is named after the sport or activity. We can start with tennis elbow which is due to the excessive use of the wrist extensors. We also have golfers elbow due to the excessive use of the wrist flexors. Finally we have jumpers knee which is due to the excessive and repetitive force of the quadriceps contracting which causes irritation to the patellar tendon. Runners get to enjoy a whole bunch of problems due to the amount of joints that are effected by the motion at hand. These conditions can include: plantar fasciitis, shin splints, stress fractures, IT Band syndrome, as well as conditions like compartment syndrome and generalized knee pain. The best action for runners to take is injury prevention. Much of the prevention and treatment is designed to keep the lower leg tension free and to allow the entire leg to be able to handle the stress applied to it apporopriately. Usually in running related injuries there will be a break down in the motion pattern which puts a greater concentration of force placed on one particular area. Based on where this force is getting absorbed is typically where the problem will arise. This is why when doing a repetitive sports like running, swimming, or cycling it is imperative to do activities that will prolong your career in that sport.
What is Shin Splints?
- Shin splints are typically caused by excessive tightness of the tibialis anterior muscle. This muscle tension will irritate its attachment sites on your shin bone (tibia) when being excessively used. This chronic tension over time can lead to stress fractures or even worse compartment syndrome. The best routine a runner can develop is using the foam roller after every run to reduce the tension build up in the muscle that tend to become chronically tight in runners.
Shin Splint Treatment Guide
- ICE Cup Massage- Take a dixie cup and fill halfway filled with water. Put dixie cup in the freezer until frozen. Rip off the top of the cup to expose about a centimeter of ice. Using the bottom part of the cup as a handle, massage along the shin bone using the ice as pressure to massage the muscle. This will allow you to get some massage and icing done at the same time. Try using a towel underneath the leg to catch the dripping water. Perform this activity for 10 minutes.
- YouTube: Video of Dixie Cup massage technique- https://youtu.be/V2EbR-bZBl4
- Self Massage with Trigger Point Stick– This device can be found on online stores such as amazon. This is a great way to be able to decrease the chronic tension that might build up in the calf and tibialis anterior when running.
- Lacrosse Ball Massage– Using a lacrosse ball massage the calf and achilles tendon to decrease the tightness that builds up in the lower leg.
- Natural Anti-Inflammatory- Phytoprofen is a natural supplement based anti-inflammatory. This will help minimize the pain and help the body get into a state of healing following training and workouts.
- Penetrex– A topical over the counter anti-inflammatory cream that is designed to reduce inflammation associated with muscular ailments. This works great on tennis elbow, sciatica, back pain, and even shin splints.
The best approach when dealing with shin splits is to cross train for a week or two to use different muscles and also contract the muscles in a less impactful manner. The force absorbed through the impact of running is the culprit to many of the negative conditions that arise from runners. Below is a few options to use when cross training while recovering from shin splints.
- Alter G Treadmill
Professional Therapies that Improve Shin Splints
- Lite Cure Class 4 laser therapy– This therapy helps to reduce inflammation but also enhances the production of ATP and increase Nitric Oxide in the blood. This allows for a much quicker recovery and increased cellular metabolism to get rid of any waste. This therapy has become a key tool used by professional training rooms around the world.
- Powerplate: This tool uses high frequency vibration to help increase pain free ROM and also enhance blood flow. The powerplate can allow a greater stretch to occur and also promote greater motion to occur within the joint. This is an excellent tool that allows athletes to get the recovery they need.
- Alter G Treadmill– This is a treadmill that can decrease a person’s bodyweight by 80 percent. This means athletes get to keep on running even while recovering from an overuse type injury. While cross training is great, it does not work the muscles the same as running. This treadmill will allow you to keep your training consistent but helps eliminate the added stress to the muscles and joints caused by the repetitive motion.
Progression of Shin Splints
If shin splints get ignored they can lead to more serious and time consuming injuries. Below you can see just a few of the many consequences of ignoring shin splints.
- Stress Fractures
- Compartment Syndrome