Whether you run for enjoyment or as part of your sport, there is a potential for developing shin splints at some point in time. The technical term for shin splints is Tibial stress syndrome. This injury can occur on either the front side or the inner side of the Tibia (shin bone) and can become debilitating if not properly addressed.
Runners may encounter shin splints for several different reasons but some of the primary factors include: a sudden increase in running duration, sudden increase in running intensity, improper lower leg/foot alignment, improper footwear, or running on hard or uneven terrain.
The mechanism behind the formation of shin splints begins with fatigue of muscles of the lower leg, primarily tibialis anterior & posterior. Once fatigued, these muscles are less effective at doing their job of absorbing impact while running, and leave the tibia subjected to greater repetitive forces. These repetitive forces cause the outer wrapping of the bone (periosteum) to become inflamed, and if continued can lead to deformation of the bone itself.
Acupuncture, being highly anti-inflammatory, is a great tool for addressing shin splints.
Multiple needles inserted along the edge of the tibia will help to reduce inflammation of the periosteum, while points in the belly of the tibialis muscles can be stimulated with electro acupuncture to help strengthen and improve their endurance. Generally 2 visits per week for 2 weeks should reduce symptoms by at least 50% and continued weekly treatments for the 3 weeks following should result in complete resolution of the condition. It is important that the patient refrain from high impact activities such as running and jumping through this time. If you suspect you may have shin splints, don’t wait until symptoms get worse. Begin resting the legs and get some acupuncture!
Callison, Matt, et al. Sports Medicine Acupuncture: An Integrated Approach Combining Sports Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. AcuSport Education., 2019.
Author Adam Gawlak is a Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc) and personal trainer (CSCS). His specialities include sports medicine acupuncture, motor point acupuncture, trigger point needling and traditional Chinese medicine, along with strength training, athletic performance, and corrective exercise.
Hyatt Training is a team of certified, enthusiastic and innovative health and fitness professionals in Portland, Oregon.