Shin Splints, This Is The Issue And The Fix
So, what exactly are Shin Splints? Many runners and other athletes have experienced pain in their shins. More often than not, though, a lot of us persevere through the pain to continue training.
No pain, no gain, right? Well, the answer is actually wrong, since shin splints can actually cause permanent damage and even lead to surgery. So before running that extra mile, let’s take a closer look at shin splints.
Shin Splints: What Are They?
Shin splints (or medial tibial stress syndrome) is when your lower-leg joints, bones, and muscles are frequently being stressed, giving your body little to no time at all to rest and heal. When too much force is placed on the shin bone and its tendons, the muscles around them begin to swell.
This applies, even more, pressure onto your shin bone, resulting in the pain you experience. Shin splints are also the result of stress reactions to tiny cracks in the bone of your leg. Normally, your body can mend these cracks naturally. However, if your body is not given the rest it needs, these small cracks can turn into a stress fracture or a complete bone fracture.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
How do you know if you have shin splints? If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you most likely do:
- Any aches or pain toward the front of your lower leg.
- Pain in your lower leg muscles.
- Pain while exercising.
- Mild swelling in your leg
Even if your pain matches these symptoms, it’s best to be examined by your doctor before you start any home remedies. What you think is shin splints might actually be something more serious. Your doctor will use different technologies to create medical images to better pinpoint what’s affecting your leg. Then you can figure out your next course of action.
Fix and Repair
If your doctor does diagnose you with shin splints, there’s a variety of things you can do to heal your leg as efficiently and quickly as possible. Although over-exercising is what gives people shin splints in the first place, there are exercises to help recover from an injury. These exercises are low impact and are meant to aid the healing processes of your body:
- Pilates: to strengthen your core
- Tai Chi: to increase muscle strength
- Swimming: to strengthen the body overall
- Aerobics: to improve circulation
Another important factor in the healing process is your diet. Food is a major contributor to your body’s super healing capabilities. Incorporating plant based foods that are rich in antioxidants and micronutrients will help you keep your bones and muscles strong, and these types of foods are becoming easier to find, as anti-inflammatory foods are among the biggest diet trends of 2017.
Stop Shin Splints in Their Tracks
It’s always best to prevent shin splints than to figure out treatment once you have them. One of the best ways to prevent shin splints is to correct how you run. If you’re a runner who experiences shin splints, you’re most likely overstriding.
When you overstride, your heel will be what first contacts the ground. This means your foot will strike the ground at a 45-degree angle and will extend your shin in the process. A lot of force will be placed on your shin bone and this is what leads to shin splints.
To avoid extending your shin, shorten your stride and speed up your pace. This will make your foot more parallel with the ground. That way when your foot falls, it will land with the sole flat to the running surface. The force of your running will then be taken off of your shin, thus, no more shin splints. Other ways to prevent shin splints are:
- Gradually increasing intensity of workouts instead of all at once
- Wearing shoes that fit and have good support
- Warming up before starting any exercise routine
- Using a One Stretch to stretch properly
- Avoiding hard, uphill terrain
Shin splints are a painful part of being a runner, but it doesn’t have to be. By training smart and correcting your form, you can leave shin splints in the dust.
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