What are Shin Splints?
Shin splints are medically called medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). This condition causes shin pain due to strenuous activity involved in sports like basketball, tennis or squash where you are required to abruptly stop and start all the time. Another common reason for shin splints is running regularly on hard surfaces.
Main Causes of Shin Splints
- Exerting too much pressure on the muscles in the lower legs
- Excessive impact on these muscles
- The excessive pressure and impact on the shins are usually caused by running downhill, or running on uneven or slanted terrain, running in ill-fitting shoes or as mentioned earlier playing sports that involve sudden stops and bursts of action.
- Increase in intensity of workouts can also cause shin splints because the tendons and muscles may find it difficult to absorb the extra force and shock.
- People suffering from osteoporosis, rigid arches or flat feet are more at risk of developing this condition.
Signs of Shin Splints
- Pain in the shin during or after physical activity
- Soreness or tenderness in the affected part
- Moderate swelling
- Weakness and numbness in the feet
Initially, the pain may be intermittent and then becomes worse if you continue with the activity. If you feel shin pain while running or playing sports, do not ignore it as it may be an indication of injury. If you continue the activity, you may worsen the pain and injury, so stop immediately and consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Treatments for Shin Splints
- Taking complete rest is the best way to treat shin splints. Replace your running workouts with gentler activities like walking, swimming or cycling.
- Apply ice on the painful shin and elevate it to reduce swelling.
- To relieve pain and reduce swelling, you can take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory painkillers like ibuprofen, paracetamol, aspirin or naproxen.
- If you have flat feet, place orthotic arch supports inside your shoes.
- Do range of motion exercises after getting permission from your doctor.
- Use a neoprene sleeve to warm and support the leg.
- Go to physical therapy sessions to strengthen your shin muscles.
- In severe cases, surgery may be needed to treat serious stress fractures or other complicated causes of shin splints.
How to Prevent Shin Splints
- While running or playing sports, wear comfortable shoes that have sturdy soles which can provide cushioning support to your feet and ankles.
- Buy and wear shoes that have shock-absorbing insoles. These are vital for people with flat feet.
- Do not run on slanted slopes, uneven terrain or hard surfaces.
- Do not increase the intensity of your workouts suddenly, but do it steadily and gradually to prepare your body.
- Warm up properly before you start your workout.
For an effective and easy method to treat shin splints, please watch this video: