How to Massage a Shin Splint

By James Mulcahy

According to The Mayo Clinic, the leg injury commonly known as a “shin splint” is properly called medial tibial stress syndrome. The condition causes pain along the tibia in the front of your leg. Overloading of the shinbone and the surrounding connective tissue causes this pain. A massage therapy session can help lessen the pain of shin splints.

Relax the leg. While the shin is the area that is affected by the condition, the massage client is likely to have stressed muscles throughout his leg. Use long, fluid strokes to relax the tissue and bring blood to the area.

Focus on the front of the leg. According to Sports Injury Clinic, the tibialis anterior is the main muscle that runs down the front of the shin, traveling from the front of the knee to the base of the ankle. The inflammation of this muscle can contribute to the pain of shin splints. Using the palm of your hand, apply pressure and knead this muscle. Direct your stroke so it travels from the ankle up toward the base of the knee.

Use deep friction techniques. Press into the muscle and any surrounding areas with your fingers, and move them back and forth over the muscle as if you were strumming a guitar. This vigorous work will break up any muscle adhesions that are contributing to the pain.

Use range of motion techniques and stretching on the foot. By taking the foot through its normal motions and stretching the muscles in the area, you’ll further relax the leg and help work out any stressed muscles.

Consider Eastern techniques. There are numerous Shiatsu pressure points in this area that you can stimulate with your thumb and fingers. These points are thought to ease muscle tension and restore proper energy flow to the body.


If the injury is relatively new, consider using ice massage techniques. Rubbing ice over the affected area will decrease inflammation and help manage the pain.


Watch out for pain. Massage therapy puts pressure on these areas, which might be very sensitive due to the condition. Be sure your client knows to speak up if she experiences any discomfort so you can adjust your stroke accordingly.


About the Author

James Mulcahy is a New York City-based licensed massage therapist with more than 1,500 hours of training in anatomy, myology and pathology. He currently works as a freelance writer and has contributed to Huffington Post, New York Press, British Airway’s High Life, Metromix and many other publications.

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