Now that the weather here in beautiful Bentonville, Arkansas is giving way to warmer, sunnier days, I am beginning to see more and more people outside running. Thousands, if not millions of steps are ruthlessly slapping the pavement as die-hards and weekend warriors alike trot back and forth on our broad, flat sidewalks. While most of you will enjoy PR’s and crazy tan lines, another subset of you will be experiencing something entirely different: shin splints.
Shin splints are every runner’s nightmare – one minute you are trotting along listening to your power jam, the next you are crumpled over in a heap on the side of the road trying to flag down anyone with a foam roller. Yeah, it is that serious. And if you have ever had one before, you know EXACTLY what I am talking about. Perhaps just as frustrating as the pain itself, is the unexplained patterns that come along with this type of injury. Well today we will explore what some of the reasons are and what it is you can do to get rid of them FAST so you can return to putting 50K on your Saucony’s each week.
In graduate school, we were taught that shin splints are caused by one of three things. 1) The Periosteom, which is a thin layer of tissue covering your bones, becomes inflamed. 2) The interosseous membrane (a dense piece of tissue between your Tiba and Fibula) becomes inflamed. 3) Micro fractures of the Tibia (shin bone). Anyway you sliced it, it was bad news. If the first two happened to be the cause, then good old fashioned NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) would cure you. And if number three was your problem, then waiting 6-8 weeks would solve your problem. The PROBLEM with those two solutions is that it never seemed to fully rid my patient’s of their problems for good.
When the traditional physical therapy treatments didn’t work for my patients, I started to use a different strategy that looked at the muscles themselves instead of the connective and boney tissues. Lo and behold, their symptoms started to GO away and more importantly STAY away. What did I do?
I stuck very thin, very tiny needles into the tight muscles in the front of the shin (Tibialis Anterior). Once those tiny needles were in the tight muscles, it allowed those tight muscles (muscle spasms really) to relax. I know, I know – needles don’t make you relax, they make your tense up and scream for your momma. You are just going to have to believe me on this one. Dry needling is an extremely effective way to get tight, ropey muscles loose and pain-free.
For people who have been plagued with this type of injury, this can be a game changer. If you or someone you know has shin splints, give me a call at 479-402-9400 or email me at [email protected] to get more information about how you can start running longer distances at faster speeds.