Shin splints: the mortal enemy of athletes and generally active people everywhere. This irritation and inflammation to the lower leg can bench even the strongest of runners, or at least slow them down as they try to push through the pain. If your patients come to you with shin splints, you might dive directly into the shin and calf muscles to address the issue. However, Dr. Justin Brink DC recommends you start your treatment from the ground up instead.

“Through our assessment, we’re looking at what their feet are doing,” said Brink. “Typically, they’re probably going to over pronate, so we know if they’re over-pronating they already have a dysfunctional foot.”

foot pronation leads to shin splints

Image from Spinal and Sports Care

How to Treat and Prevent Shin Splints

Dr. Brink, along with his colleague Dr. Jeffery Tucker DC have treated plenty of patients with shin splints and recommend attacking this problem with the DET model they teach in their Rehab Specialist Certification course: Diagnose, Exercise, Tape. Once you’ve ruled out any sort of stress fractures or other cause, and established your diagnosis, move on to exercise and kinesiology taping.

“From there, we’re going to give some simplistic exercises to get those intrinsic foot muscles to work how they’re supposed to,” said Brink.

Next up is the use of kinesiology tape to treat and prevent shin splints. While taping the shin is common practice, applying kinesiology tape the pronated foot (if applicable) can help correct the root of the problem and establish healthy moving patterns. Because this application aims at supporting the muscles, we recommend applying the tape under 50% tension. Make sure to grab a roll of TheraBand Kinesiology Tape with XactStretch™ Indicators so you and your patients can apply the right tension every time!

Along with stretching, another adjunct therapy that works wonders on shin splints is soft tissue therapy. Whether this is done manually, with instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) tools, or with a Roller Massager, myofascial work plays a key role in the pain relief and prevention of shin splints. In both your stretching and soft tissue therapy protocols, Dr. Brink recommends focusing on the calf, soleus, and tibialis posterior.

Watch below to hear Dr. Brink and Dr. Tucker further discuss their recommendations on treating and relieving shin splint pain!

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