Shin Splints Suck: Here’s How To Treat Them!

doctors showing shin splints

Shin splints are a form of leg pain which can affect either the front or the inside of the lower leg. They tend to affect runners more than most other people, but tennis players, dancers and others that engage in high impact sports can also suffer from them. The clinical term for shin splints is medial tibial stress syndrome, and the most common cause of shin splints is over-training – adding too much mileage, or too many repetitions, to a workout, too quickly.

Shin splints tend to cause pain which is quite generalized. If you have a stress fracture, then if you were to press against the shin with your fingers you would be able to find the spot where the pain is the most severe. With shin splints, you can’t find that spot. In addition, stress fractures tend to feel better in the morning and get worse on a night, while shin splints will be more painful in the morning, and feel bad if you try to perform specific movements, such as lifting your foot up at the ankle, and then flexing the foot.

doctors showing shin splints

Treating shin splints is best done with rest. Stop running, or at the very least decrease your mileage. Ice your shins to reduce the inflammation, and start stretching. If your shin splints are on the inside of the shin then stretch the Achilles. If you have shin splints that cause pain towards the front, then stretch your calves. In addition, try to stretch the shins themselves. Kneel down on a carpeted floor or a yoga mat, with your legs together and your toes pointed back. Sit back onto your calves so that your buttocks touch your heels. Push your ankles into the floor until you can feel tension in the shin.

There are other exercises that you can do to loosen up your shins and reduce pain. Try tracing the alphabet on the floor with your toes, or alternating between walking on your toes and walking on your heels for 30 seconds at a time. This will loosen up the muscles in your legs.

If you want to keep running, wrap your legs with tape or a flexible bandage, binding it from the ankle to just below your knee so that the tendons are kept close to the shaft of your shin. You may need to wap you leg for up to three weeks while it heals.

shin splints inflammation

Rather than keeping running, consider cross-training in a different sport such as swimming or cycling to take the stress off your shins. When you are recovered, make sure that you wear good shoes while running. It is important that you get the correct shoes for your foot type and running style – so if you tend to over-pronate, make sure that your shoes offer support to prevent that. Everyone should have shoes that are soft enough to absorb the impact of running. Try to avoid running on concrete or on hills until you are completely healed, and then re-introduce that kind of running condition gradually.

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