Immunity to injury is a utopian dream we all love to believe in. However, the reality is that injuries are inevitable in any sport. Shin splints are one of the most common conditions that athletes dread and keep runners off the tracks and trails. But don’t worry, we’ve covered everything about this overuse injury here to give you a better understanding of how to deal with it and avoid it at best.
Table of Content:
- What Are Shin Splints
- How Shin Splints Happen
- Why Shin Splints Happen
- Shin Splint Symptoms to Look Out For
- Shin Splints Cure
- Signs That You are Cured
- How to Prevent Shin Splints
Before learning about shin splints cure, let's look at an overview of what shin splints actually are, what shin splints feel like, how to know if you have them and how to cure them.
What Are Shin Splints
Have you ever felt a mild or a stabbing pain along the front or the inner edge of your lower leg during your runs?
That is what shin splints feel like.
The medical term for this lower leg pain is "Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome" or MTSS.
How Shin Splints Happen
This cumulative stress disorder happens as a result of repeated stress on the bones, joints, and muscles of the lower leg. Shin splints don’t happen out of the blue but are a result of constant stress placed on the muscles, bones, and joints of the lower leg. Shin splints usually affect people engaging in moderate to strenuous physical activities, such as running, football, basketball, tennis, and even dancing.
Why Shin Splints Happen
It is not just the physical activities that put you at risk of getting shin splints. Physical attributes also often what cause shin splints symptoms. The many risk factors that make you susceptible to this injury include the following:
- Abnormal foot mechanics - supination and pronation as a result of rigid or high foot arch or an arch that moves too much can lead to excessive mechanical stress on the tissues of the lower leg
- Weak muscles in the buttocks and thighs
- Lack of flexibility and wrong training techniques
- Doing too much too soon - being over ambitious can derail you from your training goals
- Being too attached to a pair of shoes, so much that you don’t notice how worn out they’ve become
- Running downhill courses extensively or on uneven or slanted terrain for a long time
- Training on very hard surfaces or switching from soft to hard surfaces
Shin Splint Symptoms to Look Out For
Not sure if the pain in your lower leg is shin splints?
The injury almost always can be diagnosed with one or more of the following symptoms:
- An ache or pain in the front portion of the lower leg, especially along the bone
- Pain that creeps up during exercise and intensifies during the activity
- Pain on either or both sides of the shin bone
- Muscle pain or pain all along the inner side of the lower leg
- Sore muscles along the inner side of the lower leg
- Mild swelling on the lower leg
- Weakness or numbness in the feet
These common shin splints symptoms can mostly be corrected with home remedies or physical therapy. However, you should see a doctor if the pain persists, worsens, or if you experience the following advanced symptoms, including:
- Severe shin pain after an accident or fall
- Visible swelling in the shin region
- Shin feels hot to the touch
If you experience any of these symptoms, chances are that you’re suffering from shin splints. In which case, you can use any of the below-given shin splints cures.
Shin Splints Cure
When it comes to shin pain while running or shin pain after running, there’s good news and bad news. Let’s get over with the bad news first. Shin splints and its exact cause are not understood fully.
But, hey! We told you we’ve got good news as well, right?
The good news is you can recover from it with the right treatment administered at the right time. Some of the shin splints cure you can use include:
- Adequate rest of up to two weeks or until the pain subsides
- Reduce the intensity of training if you spiked it up recently
- Keep your problem leg elevated
- To reduce swelling, use an ice pack on the area that hurts
- Use a foam roller regularly release tight fascia and reduce muscle tightness. Check out Foam Roller Exercises that you can do!
- Wear a compression bandage on the lower leg
It is essential that you don’t go running back to your exercises as soon as you feel slightly “okay”. Putting stress on your leg while it’s healing can cause a permanent injury that will take much longer to get over, causing you to stay away from your passion for even longer.
Signs That You are Cured
So you’ve tried all the above shin splints cures and want to know if they worked. Here’s how you can know:
- Flex it: if your injured foot moves as much as the other one, it’s a good sign that your foot is cured.
- Work it: Your foot will start to feel as strong as it was before. Try jogging or jumping, if you don’t feel any pain, your foot is well on its way to recovery.
- Push it: Shin splints cause a few spots on your leg to hurt more than others. If pushing on these spots and don’t feel any pain, it means that your foot is cured of shin splints.
- X-Ray it: Another (obvious) sign that your foot is cured is if all your x-rays are normal.
If you are worried that it’s taking too long for it to heal, we’ll have you know that 3 to 4 months of healing time is absolutely normal.
How to Prevent Shin Splints
When you are passionate about your running sessions or preparing for your first ever local marathon, an aching shin is probably the last thing you want in life. The above-mentioned shin splints cures work really well, guaranteed, but won’t it be better if you don’t have to suffer through the pain in the first place?
Keep these steps in mind and follow them religiously to keep shin pain at bay and your runs pain-free:
- Stretch different muscle groups before and after every run.
- Warm up before your runs and cool down after your runs, and that means every run, both long and short.
- Wear shoes that fit you well and provide good support and do a trial run before you buy your next pair of shoes.
- Increase the intensity of your training and exercises gradually—a sudden spike in intensity is an open invitation to shin splints.
- Engage in strength training and various strengthening exercises to build strong calf muscles. Strong hips and core will also take you a long way in improving your body mechanics.
- Use orthotics if you have flawed foot mechanics. These include custom-made shoe insoles that help to realign your foot to a neutral position and avoid over pronation or supination.
- Increase your cadence to shorten your strides and therefore reduce the load on your knees, shin, and feet.
LivingIt Tip for Stretching It Good
Stretching and strengthening are some of the best ways to prevent shin splints for good.
To strengthen your calf muscles, stand on the edge of a stair and transfer your weight to one leg. Slowly raise and lower yourself. Repeat this up to 25 times. To strengthen your hip muscles, lie on your side with your feet together. Rotate your hip outward and bring it back again. Repeat this exercise 25 times. These simple yet powerful exercises will strengthen your lower body starting at your hips in no time and make your stronger in the long run.
Now that you know everything about shin splints and shin splints cure, you’ll also find the information about these running injuries and running mistakes helpful in avoiding them before they play spoilsport between you and your passion. Have you experienced shin splints or any of these injuries in your sporting career? What did you do as a part of your recovery? Share your experience with us.
Here’s wishing you a happy and pain-free running life!