Kinesiology Tape for Shin Splints

Kinesiology Tape for Your Anterior Tibialis and Shin Splints

Kinesiology tape for shin splints.
The anterior tibialis bridge kinesiology tape may help shin splints.. Brett Sears, PT, 2014

If you have shin splints, you may benefit from physical therapy to help decrease your pain and improve your ability to walk and run normally.  Your physical therapist will likely use various modalities to help decrease your pain, and he or she will prescribe exercises to improve your flexibility and strength around your ankle.

Kinesiology tape is one treatment that your physical therapist may use to help treat your shin splints. The tape is used to help improve the way that your anterior tibialis muscle (the one affected when you have shin splints) works. The tape improves neuromuscular input to your brain about your anterior tibialis so that it gets more feedback about the current position and length of the muscle.

Kinesiology taping for shin splints is simple to do using a technique called the anterior tibialis bridge. Before attempting to tape yourself to treat your shin splints, you should visit your physical therapist and doctor to ensure it is safe for you to do.

Before applying kinesiology tape to your body, understand the contraindications to using the tape, and review the specific types of strips used in kinesiology taping.

To treat your shin splints using the anterior tibialis bridge technique, follow these steps:

  1. Cut an "I" strip of kinesiology tape that is about 3 inches shorter than the length of your shin.
  2. Tear off about 2 inches of the paper backing on one end of the "I" strip.
  3. Apply the tape to the top part of your anterior tibialis muscle.  To find this muscle, actively flex your ankle so your toes move up towards your knee.  The muscle is located about two inches below the lateral aspect of your knee.
  4. Once one end is applied to your anterior tibialis, slowly remove the paper backing.
  5. While flexing your ankle up, apply the other end of the kinesiology tape to the top of your foot by your big toe, but do not apply the middle section of tape to your leg.  You should now have created a tape bridge over your shin.
  6. Starting at the end of the tape just below your knee, press it onto your shin as you point your foot and ankle down.  Move quickly down the tape to affix it to your anterior tibialis muscle.
  7. Gently rub the tape to activate the adhesive.

The tape can be worn for 2 to 5 days, and you can get it wet. Watch out for signs of irritation around the tape, and remove it if your skin starts to itch or becomes red.

What Does the Tape Do?

The kinesiology tape on your shin helps to facilitate muscular contraction of the anterior tibialis muscle which can help improve the way your muscle works. It is also thought to improve blood flow to your muscle by gently lifting up the skin and tissues over the anterior tibialis.

The anterior tibialis kinesiology taping technique can also be used to treat other lower extremity conditions such as:

  • Posterior tibialis tendonopathy
  • Achilles tendonopathy
  • Plantar fasciitis

If your physical therapist assesses your condition and determines that your anterior tibialis muscle is not working properly and may be causing your problem, the anterior tibialis bridge taping technique may be used.

A Word of Caution

Kinesiology taping is a newer treatment in physical therapy and many of the techniques used have not been fully tested under scientific scrutiny. Some studies show that the placebo effect may be at work when using kinesiology tape. Kinesiology tape also does not take the place of active exercise for your condition. Your physical therapist should teach you exercises and self-management techniques for your shin splints.

If you have pain in the front of your lower leg due to shin splints, your anterior tibialis muscle may be the culprit. Kinesiology tape may be used in the anterior tibialis bridge technique to help facilitate contraction of the muscle and decrease the pain caused by shin splints. 

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