Shin splints basically describe a diversity of generalized shin pain that develops in the anterior area of the lower leg alongside the shin bone. The pain due to shin splints is usually situated on the exterior front region of the lower leg or pain on the rear part of the lower leg.
The cause is usually cumulative stress that results to micro tears to the soleus muscle at the point of connection to the shin bone. Repetitive stress is also capable of triggering annoyance of the posterior tibialis muscle as well as swelling of the periosteum. Straining on these tissues via constant impact activities can lead to shin splints especially lack of conditioning or not enough recovery time between workouts.
Causes of shin splints
Many athletes who end up with shin splints have a history of abrupt increases in duration or intensity of impact activities often along with lack of recovery between workouts.
There are various factors that can lead to shin splints. The usual cause is constant trauma to either the muscles or bones of the lower leg. Trauma to the muscles is often linked to overtraining or excessive running on tough surfaces. Constant use will make the muscles swell and adds pressure on the fascia that covers the muscles in the lower leg, resulting to pain and pressure.
The following are the common causes of shin splints:
- Lack of warm-up
- Incorrect stretching
- Muscle imbalance between the anterior and posterior leg
- An abrupt increase in the mileage
- Jumping or running on rigid surfaces
- Running on slanted or tilted surfaces
- Using worn out shoes that do not have enough support
- Other biomechanical issues
What are the indications of shin splints?
- Pain situated on the interior part of the lower leg
- Pain that increases after running on hard surfaces
- Pain that is often worse with weight-bearing exercise or running
- Pain that increases during activity
- A throbbing pain that can persist after stopping activity
- Calf muscles are rigid and tight
- Pain that increases with jumping, running, downhill running or hill climbing
Management of shin splints
Always bear in mind that rest is the ideal treatment for shin splints. When it comes to immediate relief for pain, you can utilize the RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation).
If the individual decides to return to his/her sport, it must be done in a gradual manner with non-weight bearing activity added to the workout until free from pain.
- Stretching and strengthening exercises are useful.
- Proper taping of the shins can help minimize stress.
- Replace worn out shoes as needed.
- Always use proper footwear
When returning to activity, it must be done gradually or the individual is at risk for re-injury. It is recommended that the individual will change his/her routine and limit the exercise time and intensity so that there is no discomfort before, during and after exercise.
In case the shin pain persists after three or more weeks, it is best to consider consulting a doctor for proper assessment and treatment.