Managing Shin Splints

by Karen Atkins, founder, The Original Worm, Special to SportsMD.com

U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Martie Moore/Released

Runners (and other athletes participating in sports that involve running) often suffer from pain along the shin bone anywhere between the ankle and knee, a condition commonly known as shin splints. You may feel a sharp pain or dull ache on the inside of your tibia (lower leg bone). There also may be some slight swelling at the inside of the lower leg between the knee and ankle.

Shin splints are caused by repetitive stress on the shin bone and the connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone.

Your more at risk of shin splints if:

  • You are a runner, especially a beginner
  • You suddenly increase duration, frequency or intensity of exercise
  • You run on hard surfaces or uneven terrain
  • You have flat feet or high arches—getting fit for proper shoes is extremely important!

Most cases of shin splints can be treated with rest, ice, building calf strength and anti-inflammatories. Many opt for self-massage. That’s where recovery rollers such as The Original Worm come in—because of The Worm’s unique 4 ball design, you can safely roll both sides of your tibia at the same time. This will provide trigger point release by simultaneously massaging the anterior, medial, and lateral shin while comfortably hugging the tibia.

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The Original Worm is a great tool to help relieve pain caused by shin splints and should be used as a part of a broader program to correct the biomechanical cause,” said Kyler Brown, D.C., C.C.S.P., of Austin Sports Therapy. “The Worm’s large surface area, combined with the padded, firm structures underneath makes it safe to use without inflaming the connective tissue surrounding the tibia.

It is suggested to roll both your shins and your calves to maintain a healthy balance of circulation and flexibility in your lower legs.

Shin Rolls

Single Leg Method: Start in a kneeling position with hands flat on the floor. Place The Worm with the middle groove just below the knee on the shinbone. Slowly roll the Worm up and down the length of the shin by moving the knee forward and back. Repeat with the other side.

Double Leg Method: Place shins on outermost grooves and slowly move both knees forward and back simultaneously. This is also a great core workout. It is recommended to roll out both shins and calves for optimal relief.

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Calf Rolls

Sit on the ground, with one leg straight out in front of the body and the other leg bent. Place the middle groove of the Worm under the calf muscle just below the knee of the straight leg. Push down with hands, fingers pointed forward, lifting the body and slowly roll the length of the calf. Also, place The Worm under the “meaty” part of your calf and roll side to side. This will help release the muscle fibers.

Note: Dr. John McDonald, a Steadman Clinic fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon with Texas Orthopedics, suggests a rule of thumb for chronic overuse-type injuries, such as shin splints: Trying a reasonable alternative therapy is fine, but don’t let the cycle continue for more than six weeks before seeing a physician.

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Jerry Milani

Jerry Milani is a freelance writer and public relations executive living in Bloomfield, N.J. He has worked in P.R. for more than 25 years in college and conference sports media relations, two agencies and for the International Fight League, a team-based mixed martial arts league, and now is the PR manager for Wizard World, which runs pop culture and celebrity conventions across North America. Milani is also the play-by-play announcer for Caldwell University football and basketball broadcasts. He is a proud graduate of Fordham University and when not attending a Yankees, Rams or Cougars game can be reached at jerry (at) jerrymilani (dot) com.

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