What are Shin Splints?
Shin splints symptoms can include pain over the inside lower half of the leg. There can be pain at the start of running which often eases as it continues. This pain often returns after activity and may be at its worse the next morning. (TRUE!!) Sometimes you may get some swelling or lumps and may be felt when feeling the inside of the shin bone. Pain when the toes or foot are bent downwards can also be a symptom and although not common, a redness over the inside of the shin may occur.
Understanding what causes shin splints can help you treat and prevent them from happening in the future. One of the most common causes is inflammation of the periosteum of the tibia– a dense connective tissue covering the shin bone or tibia. Traction forces on the periosteum from the muscles of the lower leg cause shin pain and inflammation.
Too much impact to the lower legs: If you are a the “heal strike ” type of runner ( a midfoot-strike style gait and then running on your forefoot)
the repetitive shock of your heels hitting the ground will irritate the fascia(tissue) in the muscles of your lower legs, especially your shins. When the fascia becomes irritated or inflamed you’ll feel discomfort in your shins that could worsen over time if no correction is made.
Here are some of the most common causes of shin splints:
- Overpronation of the feet
- Improper worn out footwear
- Increasing training too fast
- Running on hard surfaces
- Decreased flexibility at the ankle
- Heavy heal striking
- Extended downhill running
R.I.C.E! (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
Resting is an important part in all aspects of training because you are allowing your muscles time to recover. Keeping your shins compressed enhances blood flow through your legs and to your muscles to help restore the damage.
Shin stretches is an excellent way to strengthen and treat shin splints. Here are a few good one:
1. Toe walks are a great help. Try to get on the tips of your toes and walk around for 30 seconds at a time, walk normal for 30 seconds and get back on your tips of your toes.
2. Walking on your heels. This one is a little tougher to do but the more your legs get used to it, then it will ease the shin pain.
3. Spelling out the alphabet with your toes is an excellent exercise to do.