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.
COMMON CAUSES- 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. Traction forces on the periosteum from the muscles of the lower leg cause shin pain and inflammation. This has led to the use of terms such as Medial Tibial Traction Periostitis.
Too much impact to the lower legs: If you’re a heel striker, 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
It’s most common for people who first start running or jogging, once you figure out what is causing the problem and it’s corrected the pain should subside.
BEST TREATMENT- The best thing to do when you are suffering from shin splints is to REST! You need to stay off your feet as much as possible.
- The most effective form of treatment is to do my favorite thing…R.I.C.E!
Resting is an important part in all aspects of running as you give your muscles time to recover. But with shin splints you need to rest your legs, also icing them for 20 minutes at a time while keeping them elevated. Keeping your shins compressed enhances blood flow through your legs and to your muscles to help restore the damage.
- Shin stretches is also an excellent way to strengthen and treat shin splints.
Doing “Toe walks” is 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.
Walking on your heels is very effective as well, this one is a little tougher to do while having anterior shin splints but the more your legs get used to it, then it will ease the shin pain.
Spelling out the alphabet with your toes is an excellent exercise to do.
- Massage- You can kill two birds with one stone by taking a paper cup, filling it with water and put it in the freezer. Once its frozen start tearing the top half on the cup to expose some of the ice, use it to massage your shins in a circular motion. Depending on the severity of your shin pain, medium pressure should be a comfortable enough to handle. I sometimes do this although I prefer to get those reusable ice packs, hug my shins with it and wrapped it with an ace bandage for 20 minutes. The combination of the ice, the compression, and keeping my legs elevated is a MAJOR relief for shin pain. If it’s too severe to walk on, try ibuprofen, since it’s an anti inflammatory it will reduce swelling in your legs and ease the pain at the same time. Consult your doctor if you should take ibuprofen.
If it isn’t the running surface, your running form, then check your shoes. Having the wrong pair of shoes with definitely cause shin splints. Especially if the shoes have a lot of miles on them.
In addition to these tips, I also use KT TAPE to help with my shin splints.Yes, yes, I know I DO use KT Tape for everything!! It really does help me. I have a chronic problem with shin splints, because I have Scoliosis, where my left hip is higher than my right. So, it makes my right leg longer and closer to the ground, where as when I step with my left foot, the ground is a tiny bit farther away so my left side works harder and causes chronic shin splints. The tiny bit of distance makes a HUGE difference!!! It is a little complicated to understand but bottom line I do my best to keep them from coming back and know how to recovery quickly. The most effective way I have found to keep my shin splints from coming back is to wear KT Tape on my shins. I used to get shin splints from running one mile…in January I ran a half marathon shin splint free thanks to KT Tap!
Here are two videos that explain how to apply KT Tape for anterior and posterior shin splints
Anterior Shin Splints KT Tape application:
Posterior Shin Splints KT Tape application:
I also own a few pairs of compression sleeves that help the calf muscle as well as provide compression for the shins. When I don’t have time to tape up or just going for a quick 4 mile run I wear my compression sleeves, and when I get home from running I will R.I.C.E it to prevent the shin splints from starting.
Keep those steps light, try to run on the asphalt and check those shoes!!!! If all else fails R.I.C.E!!!!!