Home Health What Are Shin Splints and How to Prevent Them?

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Have you ever experienced pain in the front part of your lower legs after a long jog? If the answer is yes, then you have suffered from shin splints. What are shin splints? Most people don’t know what shin splints are, although mostly anyone who has tried to go on a long run after a period of less or no physical activity has felt their unpleasant effect. Shin splints are the most common injury faced by runners, especially by those who run on hard surfaces.

Running man against mountains background in the morning

Shin splints manifest by acute pain along the tibia, also known as shin bone, and are very common in athletes such as runners, tennis players and even dancers. If you want to learn more about what are shin splints caused by and how to prevent and treat them, read through our article, and get all the answers. This way next time you go running, you will know how to protect yourself and avoid this painful syndrome.

What are Shin Splints Caused by?

Nobody wants to get injured when they are exercising, so to be able to prevent an accident, you need to know what signs to look for and what to avoid before putting on your running shoes. Medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), as it is called in medical terms, is caused by various factors. The most common causes that produce shin splints are:

  • Lack of proper stretching
  • Inadequate shoes
  • Running on hard surfaces
  • Changes in the regular routine
  • Running on steep terrain

Athletes and amateur joggers alike should dedicate enough time to stretching. Most of the people rush through the stretching part and head on to running, without being aware of the stress they are putting their bodies through. To avoid the painful shin splints, do a proper stretching session before starting your lap. Otherwise, you might damage your bones, muscles, and tendons.

Wear good shoes! Invest in quality shoes that are resistant and offer you comfort for long runs. If you need to know what are the best running shoes for shin splints, go to a specialized shop and explain your problem, and they will refer you to the perfect option for you. As a rule of thumb, the best shoes should provide stability, comfort and support your foot without causing blisters or any kind of pain when you run.

Avoid running on hard surfaces or steep terrain, especially if you’re a beginner, and don’t change your regular routine without the advice of a trainer. This way you avoid discovering what are shin splint at your own expense.

What Are the Symptoms of Shin Splints?

Shin splints occur when you overstress and overwork the muscles and tendons in your lower legs. They manifest as an acute pain localized either in front or behind the shin and they often afflict runners who are at the beginning of their training.

Shin splints are quite easy to be confused with other leg problems such as stress fracture or compartment syndrome, that also include pain and muscle weakness. It’s not enough to have pain in your shins to be certain you have shin splints; that’s why you should check with a doctor because you might have some other condition that can damage your legs.

There are some movements you could make to see if you have shin splints or some other problem. Generally, shin splints feel worse in the morning because during the night the soft tissue tightens, so this would be the first sign to look for to determine if your pain is caused by shin splints or something else. Also, if the pain increases when you force your foot up at the ankle and try to flex it, that means you probably suffer from shin splints.

Best Treatment for Shin Splints

Now that you know what are shin splints symptoms, there is another one important question to ask: how do you treat them? You have learned what are shin splints; running can cause them, and bad, overused shoes are a sure way to develop this painful syndrome. But what should you do to treat this painful affliction that can keep you away from your regular training?

Well, specialists and sports researchers say that shin splints can be tears in the muscle or a localized inflammation of the muscle. Some scientists believe that the pain might also be caused by the inflammation of the soft tissue that covers the tibia. Happily, they all agree on the best treatment to follow.

  • Stop or reduce your training
  • Ice your leg to reduce inflammation
  • Try to go swimming until your shin heals
  • If you are still running, use a protective wrap
  • Avoid hills and hard surfaces
  • Allow your shin to heal by doing slow movement exercise

If your pain is very intense, you should completely stop running until your legs heal because otherwise you will produce even more damage. For the first days apply bags of ice on your shin until inflammation is reduced, and if you still continue training, go for sports that don’t put too much pressure on your shin.

Return to running gradually and use protective wrap around your shin. Choose shoes that are comfortable and offer the support your legs need, and avoid running up steep terrain as much as you can.

There is a series of restoring exercises you should do at least twice a day to recover your flexibility and reduce pain and inflammation. Sit on a chair and use your toes to trace the alphabet on the floor, alternate walking on your heels with regular walking and then rest. This is the answer to what are shin splints treatment; there are no other tricks except for rest and regular stretching of your legs.

If you want to avoid such a painful experience, don’t do anything rash when training, stick to your routines and use quality shoes that support and protect your feet and legs. There’s no secret to being a healthy runner, other than be careful with your body and don’t apply unnecessary stress on your joints and muscles.

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