Shin splints are a common problem among athletes and active individuals. The condition is characterized by pain and discomfort in the shin bone or tibia, caused by excessive stress on the lower leg muscles during physical activity. While shin splints are not usually a serious condition, they can impact training and performance, and should be addressed promptly. In this article, we will discuss the various methods of preventing and managing shin splints.
1. Proper footwear
Worn-out, ill-fitting or unsuitable athletic shoes can cause strain on the muscles and tendons in the lower legs. Ensure that your running shoes are comfortable and properly fitted to your foot, and replace them after 300-500 miles of use.
2. Gradual training increase
Sudden ramping up of training intensity or distance can put excess pressure on the shin bones and lead to shin splints. Increase training gradually and avoid pushing yourself too hard too soon.
Varying the types of workouts you perform, including cross-training exercises, can help to prevent shin splints. Cross-training activities like cycling, swimming, or yoga can support your lower body’s recovery and strengthen muscles to prevent overuse.
Stretching before and after every run or workout session is critical to keep your muscles limber and avoid tightness that could contribute to shin splints. Add lower body stretches to the pre-workout routines, as well as a foam roller or massage ball to alleviate any soreness, tightness, and increase bloodflow.
Managing Shin Splints
The first step in managing shin splints is to rest. In the early stages of shin splints, it’s vital to avoid exercising or doing movements that aggravate your condition. Rest your legs to recover and avoid further damage to the tissue.
Icing the affected area for 20-30 minutes at a time several times a day can reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain. Do not apply the ice directly; use a cold pack or wrapped in a towel.
3. Pain relievers
Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can help alleviate pain and inflammation associated with shin splints. Consult with a healthcare professional before taking any medication to understand how to take it safely.
4. Strengthening exercises
To prevent future shin splints, exercises that strengthen the muscles in the legs like calf raises, toe raises could help. Add these strengthening exercises to your routine in a slow, smooth and controlled way that won’t aggravate your shin splints.
Shin splints can be frustrating to deal with, especially in more severe cases. It’s important to know your limits and give your body the necessary rest they need to prevent the formation and recurrence of shin splints. With the right techniques and care, you can effectively manage your shin splints and get back to the activities you enjoy.