Shin Splints

(keywords: SHIN SPLINTS, chiropractic, buying running shoes, ankle joint sprain 0

This lower leg condition can be so extremely painful that you may have to use crutches if you want to go for a walk around town. But for the majority it's just a real nuisance.

The pain is experienced in the inner, medial, shin by serious and casual athletes alike but also dancers, and even those who simply love to enjoy a bit of regular aerobic sport. It can be so severe that the sufferer can barely walk due to the pain.

Whilst, yes it's true, it's a condition limited to the person who loves some form of sport, it's good to recognise that active persons have far less of the more serious diseases that haunt those who participate in no or little exercise at all.

Less heart disease, less stroke, less hypertension and less diabetes.

Mostly it’s a self limiting condition, meaning it'll get better of its own accord with no treatment. Exercise hurts, so you stop exercising and the pain goes away. But that’s not an option for the serious athlete and those hooked on aerobics. Then the condition may becomes chronic and debilitating.

Several muscles attach to the inner shin bone,  or tibia. Those usually affected are the soleus, a calf muscle,

and the semi tendinosis, one of the hamstring muscles.

"In thigh-high yellow leather boots

Plump Saphonisba strides.

Too bad that, just to hide her calves,

Two calves have lost their hides."

- X. J. Kennedy

Chiropractic Help

Enter the chiropractor. We like to treat the causes, not just the symptoms. So what are the causes? Frankly there are many. Hyper-pronation of the ankle is one of the main causes. Flat feet.

You can surely see the difference:

A bit of anatomy

However there are many other causes from tight calf muscles, the soleus and gastrocnemius, insufficient warm up techniques and a sudden increase in training. In practice, as chiropractors we often find many other associated conditions that could be the underlying cause of your shin splints. These could be fixations in the foot or a subluxated sacroiliac joint; there is no substitute for a careful and thorough examination.

Muscles move bones, and connect to the bone via a tendon, albeit a very short tendon in the case of the Soleus, but a very long tendon of the Semitendinosus.

A ligament by the way connects bone to bone, whereas a muscle to bone connection is via a tendon.

These tendons connect to the shin bone via so called sharpey fibres that root deep into the peri osteum, around the bone, the connective tissue bone sheath, hooking the tendon firmly to the bone.

In a so called tendonitis, these fibres rip out of the bone causing pain when the muscle contracts. Often though, there is less pain during exercise if the athlete follows a proper warmup procedure, but after the workout the pain returns with a vengeance.

The pain of shin splints can be experienced anyway from just below the medial, or inner, knee, and right down to the medial malleolus of the ankle. It may be a very sharp, debilitating pain, often brought on after a long layoff without proper preparation for the new season.

An anecdote from the coalface. A young woman, early thirties, very active but not an athlete, consulted me recently with severe inner shinbone pain. She loved to jog, do a bit of aerobics but was hardly a fitness-freak. Just active.

Two and a half years ago she started getting shin splints. Within a few months it was so painful that she literally could not walk more than a hundred metres. To go 'op stap' as young people call it, a Friday night on the town, she literally had to use crutches.

She had tried everything she told me.

It proved to be an interesting case. She had no flat feet, which is often the case, but she did have a short leg, and a fixation in the opposite sacro-iliac joint. There is pretty standard, and dealing with those alone might have fixed her problem. But what was interesting was the she had marked fixations in the medial cuneiform bone in the foot and a fibula head fixation.

The expected medial shinbone pain periosteal pain at the insertion of the soleus muscle, but also following the Semi-tendinosus muscle way up into the thigh were present.

She is well pleased. In just three weeks the pain has halved, and last weekend she went 'op stap' for the first time in two years.

Treatment @ Chiropractic Help

  1. She had already stopped exercising, but in your case, for your shin splints you will have to temporarily stop, or drastically reduce your exercise program.
  2. Take a polystyrene cup, will it with water and place it in the deep freeze. Take it to the bath, and give the shin an ice massage, alternating with the hot bath. Peel away the polystyrene as needed. Rule of thumb: Alternating ice/heat after exercise, plain heat before training.
  1. The soleus beds into the Achilles tendon. Start a daily set of stretches. ANKLE exercises.
  2. After your ice/heat treatment, use a little cream and run your thumb down your shin, feeling for bumps and painful spots. Press. Don't be shy, because if it doesn't get better with your own ministrations, then you can be sure that your chiropractor is going to press pretty damn hard. In Holland we say, 'gentle healers make stinking wounds.' Whilst I don't necessarily go along with that, the treatment of tendon and muscle conditions is usually painful.
  3. Pain is ironically your friend. It's not good sense to take pain killers and anti-inflammatories and go out an train. Listen to your friend Mr Pain. He's trying to tell you something.
  4. Take this little 'wet test' to see if you have flat feet:

  1. You may be able to find some inners to help with foot pronation, but you may have to get a custom set made. The're expensive; try the drug store first!
  2. Shin splints often comes on after training on a hard underfoot. Concrete, for example. Start your training on a level grass field, like a football pitch.
  3. How are your shoes? Worn out? Giving enough support for your peculiar feet?!! A good set of orthotics helps with shin splints, in conjuction with treatment. Even on their own they might help.


Buying the right shoe for your foot is imperative. Don't do it in a rush because the wrong shoe can certainly result in foot and ankle pain, shin splints and even knee and hip pain.

When to consult your chiropractor?

This is always a difficult question to answer. I don't believe you have to rush off to your doctor for every little snivel, or your chiropractor every time you have a pain. Try some common sense home care for a few weeks.

But do understand that if you allow it to become chronic, you will have to go onto a rehab program, and an occasional regular treatment with chiropractor for some months, all of which starts to cost. This applies just as much to shin splints as it does to neck pain.

When you know, honestly deep down that this is not getting better then do not delay any longer.

Tip: Make sure you find a sports oriented chiropractor for this condition. Your regular DC who only adjusts the spine will help, but his tools may prove limited. Call the chiropractic association and ask for a chiropractor with fics qualification.

BREASTBONE PAIN ... a nasty kindred spirit

Search this site function enables you to find stuff on this site.

Google has gone through an enormous shakeup in the last year, giving webmasters much grief.

Meantime, use the search function near the top of the left column to find more information about subject material mentioned on the page where links have probably been removed.  There are over 360 pages at chiropractic help; it's become a veritable encyclopedia dedicated to better health.

Bone-bone, bone-ligament and bone-tendon conditions can all be very disheartening. Chiropractic works with all three.


Did you find this page useful? Then perhaps forward it to a suffering friend. Better still, Tweet or Face Book it.

Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr B  came initially for a painful and stiff neck and then asked whether chiropractic could help the cold numb feeling running down the side of his thigh for six months. Meralgia paresthetica is a double crush syndrome with the nerve affected in the back and groin. He's 80% improved after five treatments.

2. Mrs C has a long history of severe, disabling migraine headaches since having her wisdom teeth removed. She clenches her teeth at night. After six treatments she has no migraines but some jaw joint discomfort remains; a bite plate is in the offing.

3. Mrs U has the trophy for the worst back this year. After major surgery with plates and screws two years later she still had paresis in the lower leg and severe disabling back pain. She's doing far better than expected, in no little part due to a lift in her shoe for a very short leg.

4. Mr V is 86 years old and hurt his back helping his wife into the car. Just one treatment of the sacroiliac joint and he's eighty percent better. It's not always like that.

5. Mr W lay on his back knocking down a pillar. Turning his head causes severe vertigo. He needs the Epley exercises, not pills, research shows. Update, he's fine.

6. Mrs X, a young mother has severe lower back pain, with numbness down the posterior thigh, calf and side of her foot. It started after a long drive in the car. After six treatments she is 60 percent better, but it's slow and is going to take the full 6 weeks to heal.

And now a setback, after lifting her child she now has leg pain. It's going to the be difficult.

7. This lady is a 70 year old woman, is on maintenance care for a nasty lumbar stenosis despite having to do everything at home. Her husband has a hospital acquired infection after a total shoulder replacement. After four operations he is incapacitated.

8. She is an 78 year old woman, is doing remarkably well with a bad sciatica. But over 200 pounds she is not losing weight; in fact, gaining despite my suggestions. She's high risk for a stroke. I have referred her to a dietician to crack the whip.

9. This man is a 73 year old engineer, still working, is doing fine after a long episode of lower back pain. Some pain on the side of the hip remains after five treatments. I reassured him it's not hip arthritis.

10. A 64 year old woman has had scheuermanns disease; it's left her with a spinal kyphosis and chronic middorsal pain. She responds well to chiropractic treatment provides she come every six weeks or so for maintenance treatment.

11. Mr C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mrs D, a middle aged woman with hip pain of one year duration, despite other treatment. Xrays reveal an impingement syndrome and early hip arthritis. There's much to be done.

13. Both Mrs E and I can't believe how much better her lower back and leg pain are. Surgery for a scoliosis and spondylolysthesis three years ago helped greatly for one year. But then her leg went lame and weak. He was responded extremely well despite all expectations.

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

Have a problem that's not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Want to pose a question?

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.
You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what chiropractors do.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my ebooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a chiropractor, you'll love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the price without telling me.