Shin splints is a term used to describe pain that develops at the front part of the lower leg. The most common symptoms typically occur at the front interior area of the shin bone and can occur due to a number of causes. To learn to recognize and manage leg injuries including shin splints, register for first aid training here.
The most obvious symptom of shin splints is pain on the interior lower half of the tibia. Pain occurs at the start of exercise that often eases as the session continues only to return in a worse state at the start of exercises. It often eases during the session or afterwards. The pain often worsens the following morning.
Oftentimes, there might be swelling or bumps felt along the interior of the bone. Take note that pain can also be instigated when the foot and toes are flexed downwards. Sometimes, in harsh cases, there is skin reddening over the interior of the leg due to inflammation.
What are the causes?
Overuse or overtraining is the usual causes but a number of factors can increase the risk for developing shin splints.
- Biomechanical factors such as over supination and over pronation of the feet
- Inadequate footwear such as using the incorrect type of shoe. Running shoes that are old and do not have enough support and cushioning can cause injury.
- Over pronation occurs once the foot rolls inwards excessively which leads to the flattening of the arch, causing the lower leg to rotate inwards. This will increase strain on the soft tissues which causes inflammation and pain. As for over supination, the foot rolls outwards excessively when the foot is in contact with the ground.
- Poor flexibility at the ankle can lead to increased stress on the soft tissues, tendons and muscles of the lower leg when running.
- Increasing the training too quickly, running on hard surfaces and using the toes in sprinting and generally too much too soon can increase the risk for injury.
The management for shin splints typically involves minimizing inflammation and pain, recognizing and altering the training as well as biomechanical issues and restoration of the muscles to their original state.
A doctor should be consulted so that a rehabilitation program can be started to help manage the condition.
Rest and application of ice
Rest is vital in order to allow the injury to heal properly. If the individual continues to run on sore shins, they will not heal at all. It is important to avoid activities that will worsen the symptoms such as jumping and running but fitness can be maintained with non-weight bearing exercises such as cycling or swimming.
Apply an ice pack during the early stages especially when it is sore to minimize inflammation and pain. This must be done 10 minutes every hour for the first few hours at least 4 times in a day after as well as after the training sessions.
Taping for shin splints can relieve the symptoms in most cases. The simple taping technique will support the muscles of the lower leg by pulling them towards the shin bone.
Stretching exercises must be done to stretch the muscles in the lower leg particularly calf stretching exercises.
Application of heat
Applying heat and using a heat retainer is done after the initial acute stage. The natural heat will increase the flow of blood to the tissues to promote healing.