Many people do not know that there are actually two types of shin splints; anterior and posterior, and each has their separate cause and treatment.
Whether anterior or posterior, shin splints hurt. They feel like an aching pain along the tibia or shin. Anterior shin splints are felt just lateral or toward the outside of the tibia. While posterior shin splints are felt medial to the tibia, or toward the inner side of the shin. Often they are worse with jogging or walking.
There are several possible causes of anterior shin splints. One cause is that the arch of the foot has dropped, putting excess stress and stretch on the shin muscles. These muscles respond by creating adhesions within the muscles. If this stage progresses then the muscles can actually tear from the shinbone.
One of the easiest ways to treat anterior shin splints is to get new running shoes. Often old shoes will have a flattened arch and decreased cushion. The muscles of the shin should be stretched and myofascial release to the muscles may also be necessary.
Posterior shin splints tend to be more complicated. They are also caused by a dropped arch, but not due to old shoes. Rather the dropped arch is related to the position of the bones in the foot all the way up to the hips and pelvis.
For example, when the right hip bone is rotated back, it causes the knee to become slightly knock kneed, causing the foot to pronate and the arch to drop. Again, once the arch drops, this creates additional stretch on the shin muscles, which in turn causes adhesions and pain within the muscles.
Posterior shin splints are best helped through adjustments to the feet, knees and pelvis. The adjustments can then be supported further with custom fit orthotics, which can be fitted at your chiropractor's office. This will help to keep the arch supported, the knee from turning inward and the hip from rotating back. The muscles of the shin should also be stretched and myofascial work should be done.
Some of the easiest ways to avoid shin splints are to stretch the shin muscles, both lateral and medial to the tibia, run with new shoes, not worn out shoes, and get regular chiropractic care.
At the first sign of shin splints, make sure to let your chiropractor know. The sooner they are treated the more quickly they heal.