Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, are a common injury among runners and other athletes. They occur when the muscles and tendons in the front of the lower leg become strained and inflamed, causing pain along the shin bone.
Shin splints are often caused by overuse, such as running too much or increasing the intensity of your workouts too quickly. They can also be caused by improper footwear or running on uneven or hard surfaces.
Moreover, people with flat feet or overpronation (excessive inward rolling of the foot during running) are also more prone to shin splints.
To help prevent shin splints, it is important to gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts, and to wear proper footwear that supports your feet. Stretching and strengthening the muscles in the lower leg can also help to prevent shin splints.
If you are experiencing shin splints, it is important to take a break from running and other high-impact activities to allow your legs to recover. Ice and over-the-counter pain medication can help to reduce inflammation and pain.
You can also try the following exercises to help alleviate shin splints:
- Calf stretches: Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall and one foot in front of the other. Keeping your back leg straight, lean forward until you feel a stretch in your calf. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
- Toe raises: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing forward. Slowly raise your heels off the ground, then lower them back down. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Anterior tibialis stretch: Sit on the ground with your legs straight in front of you. Loop a towel around the ball of your foot and gently pull it towards you until you feel a stretch in the front of your lower leg. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
Exercises with resistance band (therapy band)
Resistance bands are a useful tool for strengthening the muscles in your lower legs and helping to prevent shin splints.
Here are a few resistance band exercises that you can try:
- Ankle hops: Tie the resistance band around your ankles and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Jump up and down, trying to lift your feet off the ground as high as you can. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Side steps: Tie the resistance band around your ankles and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step to the right, then to the left, keeping your feet together and the band taut. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions in each direction.
- Calf raises: Tie the resistance band around your ankles and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Raise your heels off the ground, then lower them back down. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Heel walks: Tie the resistance band around your ankles and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Walk forward on your heels, then walk backwards on your toes. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions in each direction.
Remember to start with a low resistance band and gradually increase the resistance as your strength improves.
Icing can be helpful in managing the pain and inflammation associated with shin splints. Icing can help to reduce swelling and numb the area to provide temporary pain relief.
To ice your shin splints, fill a plastic bag with ice or use a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a thin towel. Place the ice pack on your shin for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Do not apply the ice directly to your skin as it can cause frostbite.
It is important to remember that icing is just one part of a comprehensive treatment plan for shin splints. It is important to also rest and stretch the muscles in your lower legs, and to gradually increase your activity level as your pain improves.
Most importantly, consult with a healthcare professional if you are experiencing persistent shin pain or if the pain is severe. They can help to determine the cause of your shin splints and recommend appropriate treatment options.