It’s the Bristol Half this Sunday!
I’ve seen quite a few patients presenting with shin splints this last fortnight.
Don’t let them stop you from enjoying your race! Have some sports massage to ease the muscles in the calf, and especially the tibialis anterior.
This is the muscle that runs up alongside the shin and is responsible for dorsiflexion of the ankle- when you lift up your toes whilst keeping the foot flat. It is a muscle that can get inflamed from overuse and running is one of the main causes, as it is used extensively in the gait cycle.
Here is one of the main trigger points for helping reduce the pain associated with shin splints.
Of course, massage to the soleus and gastrocnemius (the posterior calf muscles) as well as the peroneus tendon (lateral/ outside of the calf) will greatly benefit performance, relieving built-up tension over the weeks of training for the 10k.
The tibialis anterior is tricky to stretch,
which of course means that it can be difficult to eradicate shin splints without some sort of manual therapy. However, with the trusty tennis ball, you can tone down the muscle and in particular the trigger points. This needs to be done carefully and slowly, sensing the ‘feel’ of the tissue as your body weight puts some pressure into the ball. If you go too quickly, you run the risk of aggravating tissue that could already be inflamed.
When the shin splints are out of the acute phase of inflammation, that may last between a few days and up to 3 weeks then massage can be applied safely and effectively
This will depend on your body’s healing time and whether you continue to run through the pain. Other considerations would be to see a Podiatrist regarding orthotics which may help correct an imbalanced gait, and cutting down running distances whilst the problem is ongoing. Pilates is always a good move to improve core muscle engagement and awareness of how important these muscles are in setting up good alignment in the body.