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How to Wrap Shin Splints for Running

By Born Tough on

1. What are Shin Splints?

Shin splints is a term used to describe any pain and soreness that occurs just behind the big bone in the lower leg called the shin bone or tibia. Shin splints occur as a result of strenuous exercise, sports, or other repetitive activities. Shin splints are a painful condition that affects the front or outside of the shins and the inside of the lower leg above the ankle.

Beginners are more likely to get shin splints than experienced athletes since they are using leg muscles that have not been strained in such an intense manner before. Yet runners who resume running again after sustaining an injury are also susceptible because they try to cover too much distance too quickly.

1.1. Two Main Types of Shin Splints

There are two main types of shin splints:

  1. Frontal Shin Splints (Anterior)
  2. Inner Shin Splints (Posterior)

Two Main Types of Shin Splints

Frontal Shin Splint (Anterior)

The frontal shin splint runs down the tibia and comes to rest either an inch or two above the ankle joint.

Inner Shin Splint (Posterior)

An inner shin splint is any pain that runs along the inside area of your lower leg and is caused by torn muscles running behind your tibia.

2. What are Shin Splints Caused By?

One of the most common running injuries is shin splints. They are caused by strained and torn tendons in weak or inflexible calf muscles that had too much stress exerted on them.

2.1. Common Causes of Shin Splints

Common Causes of Shin Splints

Strained Muscle:

Shin splints can occur when the essential muscles that regulate the steady lowering of your foot with each step and the maintenance of the longitudinal foot arch are put through their paces over a long distance. The tibialis anterior and tibialis posterior are the two most important muscle groups in the lower leg. The majority of soft tissue injuries occur because the muscles are too weak and too sore to handle heavy exertion. As you increase your mileage, the muscles begin to break down.

Stress Imbalance:

The most common cause of shin splints is overworking the medial portion of the shin bone. When a person suffers from shin splints, it is most typically in one leg rather than both legs at once. Because of the strain connected with running or other workouts, it is possible to develop an imbalance between the muscles in front of the leg and the muscles in the back of the leg.

Tendonitis:

Tendonitis can develop in all of the tendons that cross the ankle, but the posterior tibial tendon is the one that sustains the most injuries every year. If you are running on uneven surfaces and one ankle is in constant rotation, it is more likely you will sustain an injury. Additionally, a hyperpronated foot might contribute to you sustaining an injury.

Stress Fractures:

Stress fractures in the tibia or calf muscles are caused by straining the periosteum, typically seen in people who engage in heavy exercise for longer durations. The symptoms of a stress fracture will not be relieved by any taping methods during the recovery period. In most cases, the patient has to rest for six weeks before the symptoms begin to improve.

Stress Fractures

Plantar Fasciitis:

The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that runs from the heel to the toes that follows the arch of the foot. It appears like a series of thick rubber bands and is formed from collagen, a hard protein that isn't particularly flexible.

Plantar fasciitis-related heel pain is more common in those who overtrain, do not stretch their calf muscles, or perform too many workouts on hills and with high-speed intervals. According to Metzl,

"When you have really tight calf muscles, they will strain on the plantar fascia and cause a lot of pain."

Plantar Fasciitis

3. Benefits of Taping

There are multiple benefits to taping your shins, which vary depending on how the tape is applied. Kinesiology tape has been proven in several studies to improve biofeedback, the process of increasing the body's awareness of its own movement. This tape helps provide shin pain relief due to an increase in circulation, as well as relieve muscular stiffness and provide stability. As a result, having tape wrapped around the shins will help you learn how to correctly adjust your exercises while healing from injury.

4. Taping Tips and Taping Techniques

4.1. Taping Tips

  • Clean the skin and remove any lotions or oil you may have applied to your skin.
  • Stretching the calves before taping can be helpful, too.
  • The ends of the tape should be stretched taut to encourage better adhesion and avoid excessive skin irritation.
  • Make small tears in the paper on the back of the tape where you want the anchor points to be. This means that you will be able to set the tape down without coming into contact with any of the adhesive.
  • When it comes to the appropriate amount of stretch, less is more effective. Don't think that you must fully pull the tape in a forceful stretch to get the benefits.
  • Rub the tape for friction to activate and promote stickiness.

4.2. Taping Technique for Running and Walking

Step 1 - Measuring and Sticking:

  • Measure the length of tape to your needs.
  • As you sit, place your leg in front of you while flexing your foot. Hold the tape at the center-top of your foot and unroll it until it reaches just below your knee.
  • Remove two inches of adhesive from the tape without stretching it and adhere it slightly below the outside of your knee.

Step 2 - Stretching and Pressing:

  • Remove the leftover paper from the tape.
  • Extend and attach the tape just below the base of your big toe while keeping your foot arched.
  • Hold the tape on your shin with your toes and gently rub it until it is flat.

Step 3 - Covering:

Cut pieces of tape that are long enough to cover the whole width of your shin and attach them over the bone, extending the tape horizontally over areas where you feel pain.

4.3. Taping Inner Shin Splints (Posterior)

Taping Inner Shin Splints (Posterior)

  • Locate the point of pain along the inside of your lower leg. It is usually a few inches above your ankle's bony section.
  • Anchor the piece of tape to a position below the ankle, the long piece of tape being several inches below the central point of pain.
  • Divide the tape in half and cut it into two pieces, then put the piece closest to your big toe and run it straight up your leg, about 50% tightened.
  • Curve the other piece of tape slightly towards your calf before straightening it out and run it parallel to the first piece of tape.
  • Get a second strip of tape and apply it a few inches above the heel and a few inches away from the point of pain. Place it on your leg horizontally.
  • Rip this piece of tape in two and run the top piece horizontally until it reaches the top of your foot, then bend it up towards your shin. It should, in effect, form a horizontal J-shape.
  • Apply the second piece of tape in the same way. Create a J-shape an inch below the first horizontal tape piece.
  • To create friction, vigorously rub the tape. The heat helps the tape stick to your skin better.

4.4. Taping Frontal Shin Splints (Anterior)

Taping Frontal Shin Splints (Anterior)

  • Loosely bend, lay your leg, and identify the point of pain on your leg or the straightest line across if the pain runs down your leg.
  • Cut a lengthy strip of tape the same length as the affected area.
  • To secure the tape, twist off a portion of the paper backing and stick the adhesive near the ankle. Then, without touching the adhesive, remove the paper backing on the rest of the tape (leave a small piece of paper sticking to the tape)
  • Stretch the tape until it reaches its maximum elasticity, then loosen it to around 50% elasticity and place the tape flat against your skin.
  • To warm up the tape, rub it vigorously. This allows it to adhere to your skin more effectively.
  • Cut two smaller pieces of tape now. They should be no longer than your calf's center circumference.
  • Apply the first small piece of tape above the focal site of pain on your leg in the same way.
  • Apply the second small piece of tape exactly beneath your leg's major source of pain.

5. How to Prevent/Heal Shin Splints

  • Rest as much as possible.
  • Return to exercises gradually and increase your training intensity and duration. If symptoms reappear, slow down or take a break.
  • Stretch regularly, it will help prevent injuries, strengthen muscles, and increase flexibility.
  • Massage to boost circulation and release muscle tension.
  • Avoid running on hills.
  • Take a hot shower to relieve muscular tension or use ice to relieve any pain or swelling after exercise.
  • Wear well-fitted athletic shoes that may help you avoid shin splints.
  • Keep switching between high-impact and low-impact sports, such as swimming or cycling.

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