2 Reasons Why You Have Shin Splints And How To Fix Them

Whether you are an avid runner and athlete or just a beginner, you know of shin splints.  Some reports show up to 35 percent of runners and athletes will experience shin splints with females being more prone to the condition.  Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), develops from overuse – and often times preventable and easily reversible condition.

While there are varying degrees and severity of shin splints, most cases will require care to fix and prevent them.  But what if we could predict who is more likely to get shin splints and from that knowledge create a plan to reduce the likelihood of shin splints?  Wouldn’t that be nice?

Whether you currently suffer from shin splints or want to make sure you prevent them during this summer you need to make sure your ankles are both flexible, strong, and you are managing your load well.

As we just mentioned, if you are going to be running you need proper ankle mobility.  Ankle dorsiflexion is the most important movement in the ankle and one of the most important movements of the body.  It is vital to walking and running!  This must be healthy!

A simple at-home assessment for dorsiflexion is to start by standing by a wall arms length away.  Place a ruler extending from the wall on the floor. Extend the arms to the wall for support.  Move one leg ahead of the other placing the toes against the wall and the big toe along the ruler.  Keeping the heel on the floor move your knee to the wall.  Continue to slide the foot back until you can no longer keep the heel on the ground while touching your knee to the wall.  Measure that distance.  A normal test falls between 5-6”.  Anything short of this leaves you more prone to shin splints and injury.

Clean Ankle Dorsiflexion
Clean Ankle Dorsiflexion
Failed Dorsiflexion Test - Heel Elevated
Failed Dorsiflexion Test – Heel Elevated


A second test is much more simple.  Kneel on the floor without shoes on.  Sit on your heels.  Your butt should be touching the back of the heels equally between both sides, and the shin should be flat on the floor.  If the butt does not touch your heels, or the shin is not flat on the ground the test is positive.  You are much more likely to develop shin splints as a result of this limitation.

To start improving these motions try simple mobility drills of foam rolling the back of the calf and front of the shin. Do this a couple times a day with 20-40 passes on the shin and posterior calf.  If after 2 weeks no improvement or changes are seen, seek the help of a soft tissue expert who specializes in sport injury.  The most common reason these tests are restricted is due to adhesion present in the muscles of the lower limb and foot.  Adhesion is the most common, most under diagnosed, and most easily reversible condition in the human body that causes limited range of motion and pain.  Adhesion requires treatment.

These limitations must be fixed to ensure healthy running!

If you are already struggling with shin splints the time for treatment is now.  You already have a problem and you need to find out what you need to do to fix it.  If you are in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area we invite you to call our office today at 319-423-0925 or request an appointment on our website at www.thrivespineandsport.com.  We are certified through the Integrative Diagnosis system for the diagnosis and treatment of adhesion, one of the most common causes of shin splints.  If you are not in the are check out this link and hopefully an elite provider is near you – Find Provider.

If you know someone who may benefit from this article please share it with them!  Make sure to check out Part 2 that will discuss some easy strength and load management help.

Thanks for reading!