There are two main causes of shin splints, and they both come down to shock absorption. Type one, is when a muscle slowly starts pull off your shin bones. The other type is when the two shin bones bow apart. These are both caused by improper shock absorption. What causes these faulty shock absorbers? It’s other structures in the system that are dysfunctional. The shins are often painful because they have to do a job they shouldn’t have to do. So instead of beating on the shins, and working through them time and time again with no avail, why not correct the original dysfunction and allow shins to just be shins and not super shock absorbers?
What is the most common culprit? The hips are often the faulty parties here in this pain pattern. You see, when one side of your pelvis (or what most people call their hips) gets rotated downwards, it actually makes one leg longer than the other. This forces that leg to have to absorb extra force. What often takes up that slack? The bones and muscles of your shins have to work overtime to support your faulty hip. The shins get quite sore and painful from this, as they are now doing something they are not designed to do.
How do you fix this? Correct any dysfunction in your hips first, so all of the 48 muscles that attach there can work properly, then correct the dysfunction in your shins.
So why does stretching and rolling out your shins often provide temporary relief? It is because you are giving them attention. Yes, they are super tight, so stretching will often feel good. However, unless you correct the underlying compensation patterns and the overlying biomechanical deficiencies (legs the wrong length), the shins will always be tight from overworking for your hip.
This exact same formula is true for many conditions. Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, shin splints (or medial tibial stress syndrome), Sesmoiditis, the list goes on and on. . .
The pelvis is so important in so many conditions. The athletes I work with regularly have learned this, and if they ever feel something a bit sore, or not working right- their first request for me is to “check their hips”, because so many times simply working through the pelvis corrects many imbalances and issues before they ever become an issue!
Written by Micah Reim, Certified Athletic Therapist