If you’ve spent hours walking or had an intense leg day workout at the gym, you might want to prepare for your shin splints to cause pain around your tibia. While there are quite a few ways to reduce your pain, the most effective and long-lasting ones are those that directly target the affected muscles, tendons and bone tissues surrounding the tibia.
Different orthopedic doctors may prescribe different medications for shin splints. But there’s one additional thing they all recommend: targeted shin splints massages. Today, we officially answer the question: does a massage help shin splints?
A shin splints massage is considered a highly effective yet safe way to ease pain and swelling caused by shin splints. The best part is that you can massage your shin splints yourself by using either a stick roller or a massage gun.
That said, we highly recommend that you visit a professional massage therapist for proper recovery, as the pain can become chronic if not addressed.
What Causes Shin Splints?
Shin splints are a very common injury that’s caused due to overuse of your tibia and the muscles and tendons surrounding it. These muscles get pulled and tugged during activity, which irritates them. As a result, they swell and cause excruciating pain.
“Medial tibial stress syndrome” is the medical terminology used to define shin splints. Athletes and sportspersons often encounter shin splints since repeated running and jumping put constant and undue stress on the legs.
You can quickly cure shin splints; all you need is a bit of rest and ice packs to start. If you neglect treating shin splints, however, you increase the chances of increased pain or even a tibial stress fracture.
It’s true that almost anyone can get shin splints, but people who start new exercise regimes or abruptly try to accelerate leg activity are the ones more prone to developing it. If you have flat feet or high or arches, your bones may not be able to absorb the force evenly. This increases the chance of you hurting your tibia.
How Can Massage Therapy Help With Shin Splints?
Massages that specifically target shin splints can help with some of the most common shin splints causes like knots, stiff calf muscles, etc. Massaging works on the muscles and connective tissues where the knots are formed.
A deep tissue massage will stretch the muscles surrounding your tibia and release the tightness and tension around it, relieve you of the pain, and prevent creation of scar tissue.
Pressure is the main hero here. Light or medium pressure can improve blood circulation as it moves lymphatic fluid, which carries the metabolic waste away from muscle tissue.
Moreover, it’ll also reduce the time needed for muscle recovery.
Massage Methods For Shin Splints
There are various massage therapy techniques out there that are specifically meant for medial and anterior shin splints.
Anterior shin splints occur on the face of the shin bone, and it hampers your capability to lift your foot.
The medial or posterior shin splint occurs around the tibialis posterior muscle in the rear part of your shin bone, which will cause your feet to overpronate and trigger pain.
Here are some popular massage techniques that’ll help you get rid of shin splints:
Deep Tissue Massage
A therapist, in this case, targets the softer tissues and presses deeply to release the muscle knots. Keep in mind that a deep tissue massage may feel uncomfortable due to relatively high-pressure force. But this will actually help relieve the muscle knots formed around your shin bone.
Shin splints are also caused due to tightness in muscles. Myofascial release massage therapy involves finding the tight, tense areas in and around the muscle fascia (for example, the tissue around muscles).
The therapist will stretch your muscles and massage the affected part to release tightness and tension; these will provide you with great relief, pain reduction and preventing scar tissue buildup.
The good news is that you can even try this massage therapy at home with the help of a muscle roller stick or ball.
Trigger Point Massage
Trigger point massage therapy involves applying pressure on the body’s multiple trigger points to relieve tension and pain. A massage therapist may not be able to find the trigger point of the shin splint; therefore, they’ll apply pressure on various spots and help you ease the pain and soreness.
Like the previous technique, you can massage yourself using the trigger point massage. A massage cane can help you reach areas of your legs that are near impossible to reach otherwise.
Sports massage for shin splints focuses more on stretches and exercises than traditional massage techniques. This technique involves focusing on the injured areas due to overuse of muscles. The therapy will help you improve flexibility and lessen the impact of injury while improving recovery time.
TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) therapy involves using low-voltage electric shocks on the affected area through the adhesive patches put on the skin.
That said, TENS therapy doesn’t necessarily cure the injury; instead, it interferes with the nerve pathways to temporarily relieve you from the pain. It’s popular because it can effectively reduce the need for medication.
You can go to a chiropractor or a therapy specialist for TENS therapy, or you can purchase a small unit for use at home.
Applying cold massage on the affected muscles causes vasoconstriction: your blood vessels shrink, reducing the blood flow to the injured area which reduces muscle spasms and inflammation.
Cold massage can be highly effective if done on a fresh shin splint. Alternatively, you can also use cold massage ball rollers for an easy and hassle-free massage on your tibia.
Yes, a massage does help shin splints. Shin splints affect the deep muscles of your lower legs, and that’s why therapies that involve deep tissue massage will help you recover faster than foam rolling or stretching.
You can even give yourself a massage at home for a minor shin splint.
However, we recommend you see a professional therapist if you experience severe pain and find it highly uncomfortable even to move your leg. Remember, experimenting on yourself can further worsen your injury.
In addition to proper medications and therapy, giving your tibial muscles enough rest will help you quickly recover from the shin splints.
Can you walk with shin splints?
Shin splints generally do not cause pain and discomfort while walking. Just avoid putting any kind of pressure on your tibia, and you’ll walk just fine.
What happens if you ignore shin splints?
Ignoring shin splints will lead to severe medical conditions such as stress fractures or lower leg compartment syndrome.
How to tell you have recovered from shin splints?
You will know you are healed when your injured leg has regained its original flexibility and strength. You’ll be able to push the prior areas of pain and feel no issue. Simply put, if you can jog, run and jump again, you’re healed.