Many runners end up with shin splits and look for the fastest way to get rid of them. The following article will cover some of the best ways.
As an athlete or runner, you are bound to end up dealing with shin splints. You may have experienced these in high school or college when you tried your hand in sports. You may be a great athlete, but these are mostly unavoidable. It is the natural wearing out of leg muscles due to excessive walking, sprinting, running and jogging. Many people therefore look for the fastest way to get rid of splints.
What are Shin Splints?
There are two major bones in the lower leg. The thin and smaller bone is called the fibula and the larger bone is the tibia. Also known as the shin bone, the tibia runs parallel to the fibia, beginning from the knee to the ankle. There are many muscles like the tibialis muscles that are connected with these two bones. The anterior tibialis is the muscle that helps bending the foot upward and the posterior tibialis helps pulling the foot down and even towards the inner side.
Shin splints is the term used to describe the lower leg problems that range from nerve irritations, tendonitis and stress fractures. The repetitive use of the muscles, leads to an overworked shin bone that leads to shin splints. The constant pulling of the muscles leads to tearing away of muscles and causing it to get inflamed.
Activities like jogging, basketball, sprinting, etc. may lead to anterior shin splints. The inflammation of the anterior tibia muscles of the leg causes these problems. They are commonly seen in people who are not habitual to the above mentioned activities that lead to strain and pressure to the anterior tibialis muscles. Foot and leg imbalances cause posterior shin splints that lead to strain on the posterior shin muscles. It is commonly observed in people with flat arches, imbalanced tight calf muscles, etc.
There are many causes of shin splints that may sometimes be unavoidable. These are usually easily correctable, as they occur mostly due to incorrect running practices.
- Inexperienced runners may develop shin splints in the initial stages of practice runs
- Tight Achilles
- Tight calf muscles
- Running on uneven, uphill terrain or concrete surface
- Sudden increase and decrease in running speed
- Landing on the balls of feet while running
- Leaning too far forward or backwards when running
- Wearing worn out, ill-fitting, improper running shoes
Getting Rid of Shin Splints
Shin splints are universal, as all runners suffer from this lower leg pain. Along with leg pain, nerve problems, stress fractures and tendonitis, tearing of anterior tibialis muscles are a common complaint. Let us discuss some of the best ways to get rid these.
The first thing to do is understand what is causing it. It may be due to the high impact on your heels. This may be because of hurdling, running, long-jumps, triple-jumping, pole-vaulting, etc. It may also be due to worn out shoes, running surface, excessive training, etc. Thus, you need to change your running shoes, if you have worn them for over 3 months, select a good pair of shoes that fit well and are comfortable to wear. If the cause is a hard, uneven surface, then you need to run on softer surfaces. You can select a grassy park or dirt trail to practice running. Avoid pavements, as they lead to extra stress in legs and also avoid switching from hard to soft surface in the same run.
You need to take ample rest and apply an ice pack to your legs. Do this frequently, during the first 48 to 72 hours. Keep your legs elevated and follow the RICE regime (rest, ice, compression and elevation). Visit a medical practitioner to get some professional help. But do not become completely inactive during the rest period. You should continue with some walking and light jogging. If you find the pain intensifies with these activities, you may use walking aids to help you walk till the pain subsides considerably.
When the intense pain and inflammation reduces to a great extent, you can begin with a moist heat and massage regime. This is one of the best ways, as the heat increases the circulation and deep tissue massage helps keeping the muscles and tissues supple. You may even try some anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce the pain and inflammation.
Another fast method is trying stretches for shin splints, before beginning any kind of physical activity. You need to warm up before exerting your shin muscles, or you may worsen your condition. Remember to carry out stretching and exercises as a regular activity, as it will help keep your muscles loose and supple.
You can begin running after 3 to 4 days. However, start with a little light running on a soft, grassy surface, till your shin splints heal completely. You need to train yourself properly and exercise in the right way, so that your muscles get accustomed to the regular activities. Make sure you follow your instructor’s advice and train accordingly. Never over-exert yourself and never stretch yourself beyond your limits in one go. Speak to your medical practitioner for expert advice on their cure.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.