Shin splints are injuries that occur in the lower part of the body near the shin bone. Shin splints are actually one of the most common types of lower leg injuries. However, the main reason why it occurs is unknown to the doctors, but there are a number of factors that are observed now.
It usually happens when you participate in vigorous activities, like running. Considering other factors like gender and physical health issues, the likelihood of getting shin splints increases.
At their initial stages, they are not severe, so you can take measures to help your injury. Let’s dive into the article to find out how to diagnose yourself and ways you can help to ease the painful injury.
Types Of Shin Splints
Anterior Shin Splints: The tibialis anterior is the location of this kind of shin splint. The muscle that lifts the foot up is protected by a thin sheath. The muscle rubs against the sheath every time you take a step and walk, which results in irritation.
If not treated, the discomfort might inevitably increase every time weight is placed on the foot, detach the muscle, or cause a stress fracture.
Posterior Shin Splints: The tibialis posterior muscle in this region ends up taking the impact due to imbalance when you pronate. When the foot flattens with each stride, the posterior tibialis muscle constantly gets pulled on by the tibia. The muscle gets damaged if it repeatedly occurs, resulting in pain or tenderness.
What Are The Causes Of Shin Splint?
Overusing the muscles, tendons, or shin bone in your legs causes shin splints. There are other causes that include:
- Tiny fractures occur in the tibia when it undergoes repetitive stress, resulting in shin splints.
- If you have overworked or overstretched your muscles, the shin muscles take the impact, damaging the muscle fiber.
- Runners who abruptly and suddenly increase their running regimen or if they run on sloping, uneven surfaces.
- Increasing the intensity of the workout on a short notice
- People with flat feet and rigid or high arches have muscles and bones that may not be able to distribute or absorb force from stressful activities
- Starting workouts without any warm-up exercises
- Wearing unsupportive and uncomfortable footwear
- People who may have weaker bones or ankles
- Weak core muscles
Symptoms Of Shin Splints
The main symptom is discomfort, pain, or tenderness in the muscles on each side of the shin bone or in the front part of your lower leg. It begins as an occasional ache during exercise and develops into a continuous, lasting pain after the exercise has stopped.
You will feel a throbbing or sharp pain, depending on the seriousness of the issue or the type of activity conducted. The pain can worsen after you complete any activity. You can consider a shin splint if you experience pain when your toes are pointed.
The pain subsides when you rest for a good amount of time but returns when you carry out any strenuous activity. Sometimes, they can be painful to the touch as well.
Diagnosis of Shin Splints
In most cases, shin splints are experienced during any workout, like running, or if the front part of the inner side of your leg feels sore. Doctors diagnose the issue by interviewing and understanding your background history before any physical examination. In most cases, you can treat the injury by yourself. However, if you experience any of the following, you should visit a doctor:
- The pain begins when you run or work out, but if it becomes unbearable, then you should know it has gotten serious.
- If you notice swelling around the shin bone, this is a physical symptom that cannot be left untreated.
- If the pain does not subside after working out and when you are resting.
- With every onset of pain, it only gets worse and reddens around the shin bone.
Ways You Can Help Yourself
First and foremost is taking rest from any activity that causes pain and discomfort for at least 2 to 3 weeks. You can do the minimum activities like swimming, yoga, or cycling that do not add too much stress on the shin muscles.
Pain relievers work wonders against shin splint aches. You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen, but ensure to read the leaflet before taking painkillers.
Shin splints’ discomfort and swelling can be reduced with ice. Instead of directly applying ice on the skin, wrap it in a towel and apply it for 10 to 20 minutes every three to four times.
You can gently massage and stretch the calf muscles to help with the pain. When you walk, take small steps to prevent adding pressure to the shin muscles.
When you start working out again, the intensity should increase slowly and gradually. For running, you can use shoes with shock-absorbing insoles to cushion and support your feet. You can also use shoes designed for flat feet to help with shin splint aches. Also, try to avoid hard and uneven surfaces when running.
Kinesiology Therapeutic tape, or KT, also works efficiently to relieve pain and reduce any stress or pressure from the area around the shin bone. Applying tape creates compression, which might improve circulation and relieve discomfort.
If the lower front part or the inner side of the leg is painful and swells up, then it is a sign of a shin splint. Mostly, it can be taken care of and treated at home through various methods like applying ice or KT tape to get rid of shin splint aches. However, if the pain does not go away after self-care treatments, then it is time to visit a doctor.
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