If you’ve come back from a walk or workout with the feeling that your shins are on fire, you’re probably all too familiar with shin splints. It’s painful and can really slow down your progress while you wait for your legs to heal. Unfortunately, it can be a persistent problem too.
While you might occasionally want an excuse to avoid exercising, trust me when I say shin splints are not something to wish for. That’s why today I’m going to talk about a couple of things you can try to help get rid of shin splints.
What are shin splints?
The term shin splints is often used to describe shin pain or inflammation that is felt along the inside or front edges of the shin. In most cases, it appears to be a result of over stretching the muscles where they attach to the shin.
Shin splints are common for people that play soccer, basketball and tennis due to the extra stress quickly stopping and starting can place on the shins. People who run a lot, particularly those just beginning, may be prone to shin splints.
Why do people get shin splints?
There are a number of reasons why shin splints may happen and it could be one, or a combination, of causes.
Some of the common causes of shin splints include:
- Excessive training
- A sudden increase in your exercise regime, including suddenly increasing the intensity of your exercises
- Improper training
- Muscle imbalances or tightness
- Unsupportive footwear (including footwear that is worn out)
- Regular training on uneven, sloping or hard surfaces, which places extra stress on the muscles and tendons
- Problems with your foot posture, such as flat feet.
How do I know it’s shin splints?
People suffering shin splints will usually feel dull, aching pain in the front of their lower leg. If you touch your shin bone after a run and it feels sore, it could be shin splints. The skin may also be red, indicating inflammation.
Shin pain can be a sign of a stress fracture or even something known as anterior compartment syndrome. If you’re not noticing any relief after a few days of rest, it’s possible the problem is more than shin splints. Best to head off to your healthcare professional to have it checked out.
Okay, so how do I treat shin splints?
There are a number of things that you can do to help with shin splints.
In the short-term, the pain caused by shin splints can be treated like most other injuries. You can use ice packs to reduce any swelling or to calm inflammation. Applying an ice pack for 20 minutes every 2-4 hours should give you some relief. You’ll probably also need to give your legs a rest, so they have time to recover.
If you’re someone who has been wearing the same shoes for the last three or four years, then it’s time to go shopping! While it can be tempting to go for the pretty, bright coloured shoes (or white in my case!), it’s important to remember that function is far more important than fashion! Choose a shoe that is right for your foot, even if it means asking someone at the sports store to help fit you properly.
As I said before, shin splints can be caused by muscle weakness or imbalance. One way to help improve strength in your lower legs to to perform calf raises on the floor on off a small ledge. Complete three sets of about 20 repetitions a few times a week and feel the difference!
As well as thoroughly warming up your body before a workout, cool down and rehabilitation is another important step. If you’re a regular shin splint sufferer, then I recommend foam rolling your calves as well as your tibialis anterior - the muscle that runs along the outside of your shin bone. Once again, make this a regular part of your routine and it could help to reduce the severity of shin splints.
Spin splints certainly are no fun and I hope these tips have really helped you, girls!
Love, Kayla xx