When a usual run becomes a painful ordeal, shin splints might be the cause. Shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome occurs once accumulated stress affects the interior part of the tibia. Take note that there is not enough padding on the shinbone, but there is a thin layer of tissue surrounding the tibia which is known as the periosteum. It can become inflamed due to repeated pounding involved with running or other high-impact activities. The resulting pain and inflammation is no other than shin splints.
Pain is the biggest symptom of shin splints that can develop during or after a workout. The degree of discomfort can range from mild to severe that the individual could no longer walk. Take note that the condition can be deceptive in which it can be painful upon starting a running session but seems to go away once the muscles warms up. Obviously, continuing to run with the condition will cause further damage such as stress fractures.
Causes of shin splints
A shin splint can either be mild or severe. In most cases, it has always been due to overuse. Those who are vulnerable to the condition include novice runners who were not able to ease into a regular workout routine as well as experienced runners who increase the intensity abruptly. The running mileage must not be increased more than 10 percent from week to week. Understandably, intense training with inadequate recovery will cause further damage.
The surface an individual runs on is considered as a big factor in causing shin splints. The pounding motion on hard surfaces adds extra stress on the calves. Depending on the surface, whether it is sloped, flat or uneven, it can contribute to the development of shin splints. The worst culprit is concrete surfaces followed by asphalt. Running downhill or uphill puts additional stress on the muscles, connective tissues and bones in the feet and legs, thus resulting to injury.
Using old or worn-out shoes can also increase the risk for injury since they no longer cushion the blow once the foot hits the ground. Individuals who have flat feet and arch problems are at risk as well.
How shin splints are treated?
The treatment and recovery for shin splints is simple and can be treated by basic first aid but severe cases require medical care. In case an individual is suspected of having shin splints, the main objective is to minimize the pain and swelling.
The RICE method is the commonly used treatment which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. In this mode of treatment, the individual has to stop any activity for some time. On the other hand, other activities such as cycling or swimming are good options to help maintain the fitness level while allowing the shins to heal.
When applying ice, cover the affected area with a clean towel or cloth and then apply the ice up to eight times in a day for 20 minutes every session. The application of compression such as taping or wrapping will support the muscles and can provide pain relief. Elevating the leg higher than the chest can help minimize inflammation.