If you participate in any sort of sport or just work long hours on your feet, you know the pain of shin splints. They make it hard to walk, you may even have to take a day off from your sport or suffer through work the next day.
They can hurt very badly.
And up until now, there was very little you could do to make them hurt less. Sure, you could take some pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen or ice it, but those are just temporary fixes. You’re going to have to deal with those shin splints sooner or later.
That’s where a massage gun can come in and actually address the situation.
Let’s look into just how a massage gun can help out with your aching shin splints.
What Are Shin Splints?
We’ll get into how a massage gun can treat them, but first, let’s address what exactly is a shin splint?
Shin splints, medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome, refer to any pain that occurs along your shins or tibias. The tibia is the bone in the front of your leg just underneath your knee that runs to the ankle.
Shin splints can occur anywhere along this bone. Your shins will feel sore, painful, and tender to the touch. Your shin may even swell up a little.
The pain usually feels worse while you’re exercising, but your shin splints can get so bad that they hurt while you’re walking or even resting.
What Causes Shin Splints?
Shin splints can be caused by any sort of distress on your tibias, usually from damage to the muscles or tendons around the shin. They’re a sign of wear and tear on the shins, but that wear and tear can be caused by a few different things.
These painful injuries can be caused by playing intense sports, specifically soccer, or anything that requires a lot of running. Dancers also frequently get shin splints from using their legs a lot during performance and rehearsal.
If you’ve just amped up your workout routine, you could also get shin splints from the sudden increase of pressure.
How Can Massage Guns Help?
So how can the mechanics of a massage gun help your shin splints?
Massage guns work with foam or rubber mallets using something called percussion therapy. These percussions essentially punch into the muscle, working to relieve pressure and tightness in muscles.
They’re used by many people for muscle recovery and relief from soreness.
Massage guns work to relax and actually heal your shin splints in a few different ways. Let’s look into them.
First, they work effectively on things called trigger points. Trigger points are specific knots along the muscle that feel hard to the touch. When you press on them, they send pain throughout the rest of the muscle.
Along your shin splint, you may have a specific part on your shin that really hurts. Placing a massage gun on these trigger points can relieve pressure along the entire muscle, providing some relaxation and healing.
More Blood Flow
Massage guns also increase blood flow to the sore muscles in your shin.
The more blood flow that gets into your sore and achy shin splints, the more oxygen gets in there. It also means more nutrients get carried in with the fresh blood. Both of these work to promote faster healing in any muscle, including those that cause shin splints.
Breaking Up Lactic Acid
The percussions also work to break up lactic acid that could gather in your shin splints.
Lactic acid causes a burning sensation in the muscles, specifically after a workout. Massage guns can actually break up the lactic acid and other metabolites that are gathered up in the muscles, stopping the soreness and aches.
How to Use Your Massage Gun on Your Shin Splints
What’s the best way to use that massage gun on your splints?
Here are some tips and tricks to use your massage gun most effectively to relieve your shin splints.
The most important thing you can do when treating your shin splints is to be as specific as possible.
You need to make sure you use your massage guns on the parts of your shin that will increase blood flow instead of just massaging the bruise. Which feels good, but won’t ultimately promote healing.
So which muscles are best to target?
Let’s take a look.
Which Muscles Should You Target?
So which muscles in your leg do you need to target to relieve that pesky shin splint?
Believe it or not, there are a few different achy muscles that could be causing your shin splints.
If your shin splints are on the inside of your shin, you’re going to want to stimulate your soleus (the muscle directly underneath your knee on the backside of your leg.) You’re also going to want to release your gastrocnemius (your calf muscle) and your posterior tibialis (the middle of your calf in the back). Releasing these muscles will make movement easier.
If your shin splint is hurting the most on the outside of your shin, take a different approach. You’re going to release the same two muscles we mentioned earlier (the calf muscles.) However, you’re also going to want to try it out on that outer muscle that lays right on top of the shin toward the outside.
If you’re sort of new to using a massage gun especially, you want to start soft and slow. Use the traditional ball-end attachment on your massage gun.
Use your massage gun on one of the lower settings to start the release of the muscles. If your shin splints are tight, you don’t want to go too hard on them. That’s going to be too painful and also could do more damage than good.
Just go slowly at first, then you can try to increase.
Switch Attachments and Increase Intensity
After you’ve done a little bit of releasing with the ball end, then you can go up a bit in the intensity. But only go up as far as you’re comfortable with.
Once you’ve done the initial relaxation of the muscle, go ahead and try out one of the different attachments. Use a smaller one for more specific trigger point pressure and release. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
Pause If You Feel Too Much Pain
If you start to feel like it’s hurting too much, pause. You should only spend a few minutes on each shin. Anything more could just cause more pain than you even started out with.
Try turning the intensity back down if it’s a little bit extra uncomfortable but you still want to try it.
Repeat As Needed
You can use the massage gun as many times as you need while your shin splints are healing.
Though a massage gun helps pain associated with shin splints and speeds up the healing, it’s not a quick fix.
A Natural Way to Treat Shin Splints
Instead of taking pain relievers for temporary help, why not try a natural way to help your shin splints heal?