The shin is the common name for the front of the lower leg bone (tibia) and its associated muscles and tendons. Muscles on the front of the leg (primarily the anterior tibialis) serve to point the toes and foot upwards (dorsiflexion). First, let’s make a distinction between anterior shin splints and posterior shin splints. Anterior shin splints exist on the front of the leg. Posterior shin splints present pain along the inside edge of the lower leg.
Posterior shin splints present pain along the inside edge of the lower leg. In some cases, bumps can also be felt along this area. They are typically caused by various muscle imbalances in this part of the leg. Flat arches, over-pronation (eversion), and activities that require frequent changes of direction can all contribute to posterior shin splints. Poor shoes and overactive calves (muscle imbalance) can also greatly increase the chances of developing posterior shin splints. Many times the shin splints arise from pain in the muscle due to overuse, but often times the pain can be due to stress fractures in the bone. This is often seen in those who “tough it out” and continue the painful activity without allowing for sufficient recovery.
Treatment always entails rest and avoiding the activity that caused the pain. Shin splints start out as a minor annoyance, but can become debilitating if not allowed to heal in the early stages. Ice and anti-inflammatories will help reduce the pain and inflammation, but should not be used to continue the painful activity. Correcting poor running form, fitting for appropriate shoes, and stretching before and after activity will aid prevention.
KT Tape provides an excellent means of helping the muscles to relax and facilitate the healing process, also helping to reduce inflammation. As with any overuse injury, use the tape in conjunction with rest to promote the healing process and see reduced recovery times.