Gnarly Shin Splints

Gnarly Shin Splints

Conversation between a client and me on the topic of shin splints:

Sophia:  Felicia! In a rushed out of breath sort of way.

Me:  Yes, Sophia? 

Sophia: Oh my God girl, I need your help. By the way, you look amazing! Are you still going to the gym ridiculously early every morning?

Me: Thanks, yea I am. Smiling. How can I help you? 

Sophia: Okay, I have these gnarly shin splints that won’t go away.  I can’t run and I love running.  It’s the only physical thing I do that makes me feel good and I like. You gotta help. 

Me:  Where are they?

Sophia: Right here and here. She points to the inside of lower legs.

Me: Do you feel it when you’re flat on your feet?

Sophia: No.

Me: Tippy toed?

Sophia: No.

Me: Toes up?

Sophia: No, I feel it when I run.

Me: Have you tried not running for a while? Give them time to go away? 

Sophia: I stopped for a day, but I have to run. 

Me: Okay, I got it. This may hurt. Just breathe through the pain. 

Sophia: Beat me up. 

This conversation may sound a little intimidating. That’s only because Sophia has been a long-time client of mine, and I know and respect her body. Sophia demands quite a bit from her body and likes it working to her expectations. I think that’s something we all can relate to. 

Shin splints, or medial tibia stress syndrome, more commonly affects dancers, military recruits and, of course, runners. According to the Mayo Clinic, new athletes or those who have increased the intensity of their workouts are more likely to feel this intense pain along the tibia, or shin bone.

In this instance, Sophia is a fairly new runner and has been running for about four months.  In those months, she boosted her weight loss regimen and improved her mindset. Getting shin splints stalled her progress. Not only did the shin splints affect her weight loss and mindset, but they also added a new pain and a debilitating one. Shin splints are known for ending running workouts and detering new runners like Sophia. I bet you know at least one person and quite possibly yourself who stopped running because of shin splints. That’s why it was so important to get Sophia back on track ASAP.

Because the goal is to alleviate shin splints, the massage focused on the areas affected and/or connected to shin splints, such as the feet, heels, calves, front of lower leg and any other places  I found. The work was deep, slow with passive and active stretching. Because the massage was focused and intense, the session lasted for an hour, but it helped Sophia regain her running abilities. She felt less pain the next time she ran, and when, she came back for a follow-up service a week later, I used the same massage technique.  I instructed Sophia to ice her shins after running,  pinch her Achilles and do the alphabet with her feet once a day. 

With this work, the shin splints went away. Today, Sophia and I are back to a regular therapeutic massage sessions. 

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