Shin splints, professionally known as medial tibial stress syndrome, is a condition of runners, athletes, and dancers and it’s usually a message from our body that we train too intensely or improperly. It usually starts as a dull ache in the shins, which can be mild or really severe and is often accompanied by swelling.
Shin splints usually occur in your dominant leg, but sometimes they appear in both legs. They may get so painful that it’s even difficult to stand or walk. Find out what leads to this troublesome condition, learn about the symptoms and how to get rid of it.
What Are Shin Splints
The term ‘shin splints’ is a colloquial expression that refers to pain in the front part of your lower leg. In medical terms it’s known as medial tibial stress syndrome. It happens when you repetitively expose your leg to impact-based pressure. In consequence the muscles on the back of your leg may fatigue and develop excessive bending of the tibia bone in the lower part of your leg.
As a result, the tendons and soft tissue in your front leg get inflamed and overused, which you feel as pain in your shins. If you want to get rid of the problem quickly, you first need to find out what the cause of it is as probably you will have to introduce some modifications into your workouts.
What Are The Causes of Shin Splints
The activity which triggers shin pain the most often is running. You may think that you won’t find an easier activity, but in reality you can make plenty of mistakes while running, which may lead to an injury.
Among the popular mistakes, running in a wrong way or with a bad form is probably number one. It happens if you deal with such problems as supination, overpronunciation, or fallen arches. Shin splints also happens if you run too frequently and your body doesn’t have enough time to recover between the runs. Running in a proper way and recovery times are crucial, especially if you are a beginner.
Where you run is very important too. If you mainly run on roads, pavements, or some unstable terrain, such as rocky hills or you frequently run uphill or downhill, you will put too much pressure on your shins and they may hurt. Thus, you should mainly run on surfaces that are created for running.
Another common mistake, also often made by beginners, is starting running too intensely, without slow progress. When we begin running we are usually very enthusiastic about it and we tend to be impatient as we want to see the results quickly. In consequence we run to often and too long, which unfortunately, usually ends up with an injury, instead of the success.
Both the beginners and the advanced runners often commit a sin of running without a proper warm-up before a run and stretching after running. It takes some time but it’s the only way to prevent injuries.
Also, remember that proper shoes are crucial if you start running regularly. Worn-out shoes may not support your feet anymore while new sneakers may need some time so that your feet could get used to them.
Shin splints usually happen when your body is not used to an intense activity and when your core muscles or muscles in the front of your legs are weak or inflexible. Thus, remember that only slow progression and patience are the key to success.
On the other hand, shin splints is a condition that affects experienced runners as well. One of the theories says that it’s because of so called muscle memory. It means that your joints, bones, and muscles somehow remember the injuries from the past, which makes you more susceptible to further injuries, even if you are sure that you fully recovered from the injury.
What Are The Symptoms of Shin Splints
Shin splints may start suddenly, which usually happens when you take up some new exercises, or it can develop over time. The main symptoms include pain and sensitivity in the lower part of your legs, mainly in the inside of your calf close to the Achilles tendon.
The pain often gets worse while exercising and in some cases you may be unable to run or even walk without pain. Standing for a long time might be painful too. You may also notice some small bumps and bruising on your shins or they can be swollen.
Four muscles take part in the formation of shin splints and these are the tibialis posterior, the tibialis anterior, soleus, and gastrocnemius. If these four crucial elements don’t cooperate as they should, you start to feel pain in your shins.
How to Get Rid of Shin Splints
In most cases you can deal with shin splint on your own by changing your everyday routine and the way you work out. If these measures don’t work, you will have to consult a healthcare professional.
1. Change Your Workout Routine
Runners are in the risk group of developing shin splints the most often. If this is also your case, for sure, you need to change your running routine. It’s possible that your shins hurt because you mainly run on an uneven terrain like rocky hills or on hard surfaces, such as concrete or asphalt. Try to switch to sand, grass, or a rubberized athletic track. Also, don’t run uphill or downhill too frequently.