Whether you are a beginner runner or have had a lifetime of experience in the running, shin splints are equally painful for everyone. It is the worst kind of injury anyone; especially, athletes can get. Shin splints cause an unbearable amount of pain, concentration in the front portion of your leg. The pain comes down along the tibia and generally accelerates during or after a workout when the affected area is pressed or touched.
In a few cases, there is a tightening pain that makes running extremely difficult or even impossible in some cases. Injuries like shin splints are extremely dangerous as they can cause an athlete their entire career. It decreases their speed too quickly and makes their legs too stiff to run.
So, in this guide, we have come up with Guide to Shin Splint Treatment, their causal reasons, and how to prevent it from happening in the future.
How are Shin Splints caused?
Shin splints are considered one of the most frustrating injuries. It makes the simple task of running feel impossible. Shin splints have caused many athletes to lose the results of their hard-worked gains. Any bone-related shin injury is called medial tibial stress syndrome. This injury covers a broad range of ailments, from stress injury, a feeling of irritation in the bone, to stress fracture, an actual crack in the bone. The one who is injured has to bear maximum pain during and after the exercise. The tibia hurts the most whenever it is touched or pressed.
The cause of shin splint is pulling or tugging to muscle and connective tissue in the lower leg. Shin pains that are bone-related are more common than muscle-related shin pain. Due to repetitive and frequent pressure from constant running, jumping, and leg work, the bone becomes inflamed, and it causes the bone structure to swell.
The swelling of bones is a result of three relevant factors,
- Body Mechanics include the foot type, foot strike, and the built of the body.
- If you are involved in a high-intensity workout without proper warm-up or practice, your shin splint might be caused due to the amount of activity.
- Lastly, Bone Density can be a causal factor of shin splint (especially among women)
All three problems work together, creating an unbearable pain in the area, making every task difficult.
A less common muscular problem can also lead to shin splint, which is Exertional Compartment Syndrome, ECS. It is characterized by tightening of the shin. It can happen in any portion of the lower leg and worsens more and more with exercise. Patients often complain about massive pain in the front part of their legs. However, the rest of the leg remains pain-free until they exercise.
How to Treat Shin Splint?
The most important thing you need to do to treat your shin is to take ample rest, relax your body, ice the shin to ease the inflammation and irritation.
Here are some ways to treat your injured shin:
- For Bone-related Shin splints – First of all, you need to see a doctor and get diagnosed properly. If you have a stress injury, it can turn into a stress fracture, the consequences of which are fatal and long-lasting. After getting your medical treatment, give your body an ample amount of rest. Engage in other activities that do not put stress on your legs, like swimming. This will help you recover faster as well as keep you in momentum with working out.
- For muscle-related injury – For ECS, a Foam Roll is everything you need. Foam roll will help loosen the tightened muscle around your shin. Run a foam roller over your calves and shins several times a day. You can also try manual massage to help with the excruciating pain. Get arch support and stability shoes to treat your feet from the biomechanical problems in the correct way.
How to prevent splints?
It is always advised to prevent something from happening than to run after finding its cure. Learning how to prevent shin splints will be the safest option in every situation. Here are some preventive methods for a shin splint.
- Use insoles and orthopedic shoes – shoe inserts that are custom made for collapsed or fallen arches help with better balance. Often, a flat foot is one of the biggest reasons for shin splint. If you have a flat foot, switch your regular shoes with the ones that support arches.
- Check your health: Your calcium and vitamin D affect bone health and bone density. Too much or too little presence of these in your body will harm your health.
- Strengthen your core – Strengthening your core will help build a strong base as a runner. It will improve your body mechanics and running strides.
- Comply with the 10-percent rule: Never increase your total weekly mileage by more than 10%, or it will cause your shins to splint.
- Shorten your strides: This will help you generate better stride mechanics and put less effort on your feet, shins, knees, and up the kinetic chain. 85 to 90 strikes of one foot in a minute is quite a good number.
However, if your shin splint pain is extreme, take anti-inflammatory medicine and painkillers. Stick to non-steroidal like aspirin, ibuprofen, and similar painkillers to lessen the inflammation and swelling.
How to know that your shin splint has healed?
Here are some signs you should look for to see if your shin has healed:
- If your injured leg is as flexible as the other one
- If you can jump, jog, and sprint without any pain
- If your injured leg feels as strong as the other leg
- If there is no pain upon tapping, pressing, or pushing the injured spots with force
If you have all these signs, your shin sprint has healed completely. However, you should still be careful and practice all the preventive measures so that you do not have to go through them again.