How To Heal Shin Splints

Posted on 26. May, 2011 by in Injuries / Rehab

How to Heal Shin Splints

First off I want to start with a disclaimer.

The following information is very general.  It may or may not apply to you.  As I likely don’t know you and certainly haven’t done an assessment of you and your movement, the following information may be completely inappropriate to your particular situation.

However, what I am about to share with you does apply to a broad spectrum of people walking around today and it is likely that it does apply to you.

I can guarantee that the following information will cause you no harm.  Who knows?  It may fix problems you didn’t even know you had.

A viewer asks about shin splints and how to best correct them.  He mentions following the advice of a number of well regarded trainers online and has little or no relief from their methods.

I suggest that your chronic shin splints may be due to an imbalance in your gut.

What’s that you say?  How can gut problems cause shin splints?

Sit back my friend and listen well.  The body is a web of interconnections and the one I am about to entail for you is not as far fetched as it may at first seem.

Here’s a new phrase for you, visceral somatic inhibition.  What that means is that the viscera (gut) has caused the body (Latin word soma) to be shut down or inhibited.

In this particular instance, irritation of the lower digestive system has caused the abdominals to be weak or inhibited.

This in turn causes an anterior or forward tilt to the hips, which causes the femurs (thigh bones) to rotate inward (medial rotation).   This affects the instantaneous axis of rotation, which is a fancy way of saying it throws off the alignment of the knee joint.

Now, when you run or jog under these conditions the knee is under strain which translates to strain on the anterior tibialis (a muscle on the front of your shin).

The compressive forces that occur when your foot strikes the ground during your stride are now unable to be effectively dissipated by the structure of your leg (specifically the ankle, knee and hip joints) and gets “eaten” by the shin and our friend, anterior tibialis.  Hence, shin splints.  And since that stress is there every time you run–chronic shin splints.

So, how do we fix that?

We start with your gut.  Remember visceral somatic inhibition?  What happens there is that something irritates your gut and does so at a constant enough level that your nervous system decides that the irritation is just how things are.  It then relegates that neural feedback to background noise and soon just ignores it.  As a result the whole area gets turned off, including some of the motor nerves in that area.

Over time that becomes what is called motor sensory amnesia.  Your muscles “forget” how to work.

So, the first step is to remove the irritation in your gut.  That means cleaning up your diet.  Get rid of processed foods, take a hard look at your alcohol consumption, consider the possibility that medication you have taken or are taking may be the cause of this irritation (**That does NOT mean to stop taking your meds willy nilly.  All decisions made concerning your medication should be made in consultation with your doctor.  Make fully informed choices, not ones based on what just one dude says, even if that dude happens to be me.**).  Another cause of irritation may be food allergies.  Consider; wheat, dairy and soy are the most common dietary allergens.

Once that is done it’s now time to wake up your abdominals.  Train the deep abdominals, transverse and the obliques.  Crunches alone won’t cut it.

Pilates, by the way, is very effective at targeting the deep abdominal wall and teaching you to engage those muscles.

I recommend a class, but if you can’t stomach the idea of working out with a bunch of soccer moms (Pilates is popular with the ladies) a video will make a decent second.

Once you’re able to re-engage your core you can correct your anterior pelvic tilt and maintain a proper alignment when you run, lift and live.

A body that operates in proper alignment operates without pain.  A body that is in proper alignment is a powerhouse.

If you want to be strong you have to address basic function.  That means addressing structural issues and muscular imbalances.  To ignore them is an invitation to injury and a shortcut out of the strength game.

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