Shin pain? Sports massage can help!

What are shin splints?

The technical term for shin splints is anterior compartment syndrome. It is a condition or an overuse injury resulting in pain at the front of your shins during a physical activity which is mainly running. Every muscle has a compartment that holds it together. During physical activity muscle expands, increasing pressure within the compartment. When it gets to the point where the compartment is unable to expand at the rate of the muscle, accumulated pressure compresses blood vessels resulting in ischemia (reduced blood flow) to the muscles and nerves causing various symptoms.

What causes shin splints?

Shin splints can be caused by direct trauma into the compartment causing excessive swelling. It may also be a result of a muscle tear as torn muscle would bleed within that compartment increasing the overall pressure. Arguably, the most common cause of shin splints is a rapid increase in muscle tone or volume of physical activity.

What are the symptoms of shin splints?

Most common symptoms are severe tightness or burning at the front of your shins during physical activity. Symptoms do not subside, and in most cases get worse, if physical activity is carried on. Other symptoms may include tenderness of the area, muscle tightness and tingling. Weakness or numbness of the area may also be present in severe cases. Tightness of the muscles may also alter the function of your ankle making it feel less mobile.

What is a sports massage?

It is a type of massage which is taught as a part of syllabus in degrees such as Sports Therapy or Sports Rehabilitation. The qualification of sports massage therapist may also be obtained doing a separate course at level 3, 4 or 5. Because there are no laws to protect the public from incompetence of certain therapists, make sure to check that your therapist is registered with an appropriate governing body to show that the therapist is professional, committed and has required qualifications to deliver a treatment of a good standard.

Also, sports massage can feel very similar to Swedish or deep tissue massage as techniques used are essentially the same. Those involve:

  • Effleurage – gentle and soothing strokes over the skin to warm up muscles and get them ready for deeper work.
  • Petrissage – is kneading and wringing of the muscles whilst applying a deep pressure. It helps to loosen the muscle tension.
  • Tapotement – is percussion techniques which can be applied using fingers, edge of the hands or cupped hands. This type of technique helps to revitalise the worked muscles, increase the excitability and warm them up for a physical activity.
  • Friction – is very focused and deep pressure applied on a specific area of the muscle. It helps to break down adhesions and scar tissue as well as loosen off tight muscles.

What are the benefits of sports massage?

There are several benefits of sports massage. Those include:

  • Relaxation.
  • Release of muscle tension and spasm.
  • Release adhesions. 
  • Break down scar tissue.
  • Improved circulation.
  • Help to manage anxiety and stress. 
  • Increase the range of motion of joints. 
  • Improves muscle flexibility.
  • Helps to alleviate delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) after physical activity.
  • Helps to warm up and cool down.
  • Increases efficiency of recovery after an injury when used with appropriate rehabilitation programs.

How does sports massage help with shin splints?

Sports massage helps to reduce the muscle tension, hence, it can improve the circulation promoting the blood flow in the area. It can also help to reduce excessive swelling, manage pain and improve the mobility of the ankle.

It is very important to note that you will most likely have to stop the physical activity you are currently undertaking which is exacerbating the symptoms. Sports massage on its own is less likely to help you to make a full recovery, hence, you will  be prescribed specific exercises to go with your treatment.

We hope this information is useful for you. If you need advice or have any questions about our treatments, please contact us. You can find us in Mill Hill Broadway and Islington. We are always happy to help. If you like this blog, please share!


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