The nature of a shin splint is peculiar, because the area that is typically in question isn't your shin at all. True, the general region is close to the shin. What we have found at Trigger Point Technologies is that, except in the case of an actual stress fracture of the tibia, the pain comes from the muscles around the "shin bone", but does not affect the shin itself.
If you look at the soleus muscle, which is located below the major calf muscle (the gastrocnemius), you will see that the muscle wraps around front of the leg. Please see pictures below.
The dominant side of the soleus is, of course, in the back on the leg. So many people have trouble figuring out how to treat the problem of shin splints.
Some people have trouble with Plantar Fasciitis, others with Achillies Tendonitis, and then there are those that suffer from tight calves. I mention all of this because the common denominator among these maladies is the soleus.
You sleep with your feet pointed. You sit with your arch turned up towards the sky. When you swim your foot is in flexion. Then you ask your soleus to elongate when cycling, running, jumping,and it never gets a break. There is always some movement or some position, asking for the abilities of your soleus.
Once you get dehydrated or sleep deprived, you pose another problem. The elasticity in the muscle begins to diminish because it lacks proper health, blood, and oxygen to allow it to do its job.
Then you go to sleep. This is when your body repairs the damage that has been done throughout the day. Well, if you have poor nutrition in the muscle, you are going to enhance the loss of elasticity. Then you wake up and hurt as soon as you start to walk. So you’ve got to treat the problem that is causing all the symptoms.
Another way to loose the elasticity in a muscle is icing. I am not a big fan of icing, because people tend to ice too much. In fact, many athletes ice so often that once again the elasticity is pulled from the muscle, instead of allowing the natural healing process to take place. So if you ice, be careful.
Now back to the issue at hand, shin splints. Treat the soleus with the TP Massage FootBaller in order to create elasticity within the soleus muscle. If it feels like you have rice crispies along the inside of the shin where the bone and soleus meet, take the TP Massage Ball™ and roll through the area. This is not going to feel that great while you are doing it, but once you go to walk or run you will be so excited.
The other area that you must pay attention to when referring to shin splints is the Anterior Tibialis (We spoke about this muscle regarding knee pain, see picture below). This is the muscle that runs up the front of your leg from your big toe to your knee. When the dorsiflexion is lost in the foot and the Anterior Tibialis is overworked, this area can also get a bit tender. When you throw in all the elements discussed above, elasticity is lost and problems arise.
So take a look at the biomechanical evaluation for shin splints and the trigger point referral chart, and treat all areas so you can continue doing what you love to do.
If the problem persists try sleeping in a compression sock. This will enhance the body’s ability to generate heat and maintain elasticity in the area while sleeping.