If you have pain in your lower leg, somewhere on and around your shin bone, you are likely to have shin splints. The pain is usually concentrated in the areas between the knee and ankle. At times, throbbing pain occurs, which can make walking difficult too.
People who are into running, sports and other physically intensive activities are susceptible to shin splints. While running the pain can get so bad that the only option is to stop. This nagging pain can be quite unbearable and the affected areas can be extremely sensitive to touch.
What causes shin splints?
• Pain from shin splints occurs when the force and load on the shin bones and tissues attaching to the shin bones are excessive.
• This force causes the muscles to swell up which in turn increases the pressure on the bone.
• Shin splints can also be a result of stress fractures. Constant force and pressure can cause very small cracks in the bone. But these cracks can be repaired when the body gets a chance to rest.
Shin Splints can result from:
- People who have flat feet.
- Those who are wearing the wrong shoes.
- Starting a workout without warming up well and finishing a workout without a proper cool down.
- Muscles in the legs, core, and hip which are weak.
- Training using the incorrect technique.
- Constantly running on hard surfaces like the road/concrete.
- Playing sports that are impact-oriented.
How to prevent shin splints?
- Wear the right shoes: Wearing the right shoes for the right activity matters a lot. Make sure your shoes aren’t ill-fitted and aren’t worn out. They should be the right size and not bigger for you.
- Consider arch supports: If you are flat-footed, you must considering buying a pair of shoes that will support your arch and make sure that your weight is equally distributed in your legs.
- Train on softer surfaces: that can absorb the impact rather than hard surfaces. A muddy ground, the beach and grass surfaces are much better to train on and easier on the body.
- Warm-up extremely well and after your training, you stretch properly. Many people do not realise the importance of this. A lot of injuries can be avoided if you make warmup and stretching a part of your daily workout routine.
- Strengthen your muscles around your hips, core, and legs. This can go a long way in the prevention of injuries.
How to treat shin splints?
There are many ways to treat shin splints. Some can be from home like:
• Icing: Using an ice pack on the affected areas every day for 15-20 minutes, at least 3 times a day can be very beneficial. This should be continued for a long period.
• Rest: Depending on the severity of the pain, you may need to rest for 2-6 weeks. This doesn’t mean you need to stop all activity. Low impact physical activity should be continued. This includes swimming, walking, and stationary cycling.
• Elevation: Elevating your leg on a pillow can reduce swelling. Leg should be at a level that is higher than your heart.
• Resort to pain killers or anti-inflammatory medicines, but only when advised.
Going to your physiotherapist:
- She/he will guide you to the correct stretches and exercises that must be performed to strengthen calf and ankle muscles
- They may give you an ultrasound to reduce the swelling
- To relieve the pain, soft tissue massage may be given.
- Cryotherapy/ Cold therapy may be given to increase circulation and reduce inflammation.
If you have shin splints, do take the needed precautions as avoiding this or working out through the pain can be bad for you and make your condition even more chronic.