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Treating Shin Splints

Treating Shin Splints

According to the Mayo Clinic:

The term “shin splints” refers to pain along the shinbone (tibia) — the large bone in the front of your lower leg. The pain is caused by an overload on the shinbone and the connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone.

The anatomy of a shin splint

image borrowed from the Mayo Clinic

The most common causes of shin splints are:

  • Tightness or weakness of the calf muscles and muscles in the tibia area
  • Inadequate footwear / inadequate arch support
  • Overpronation in the feet
  • Oversupination in the feet
  • Repeated running on hard surfaces such as concrete
  • Uneven surfaces
  • Beginning training after a long period of layoff

Inadequate footwear and re-introduction of training as well as decreases in strength in supporting muscles are the main reasons why shin splints tend to be more common during pre-season and early season training.

So how are shin splints treated? Much like other types of soreness, remedies include:

  • Utilizing the PRICE method
  • Taking aspirin or another such over-the-counter anti-inflammatory
  • Using muscle rub such as Tiger Balm or Icy Hot
  • Massaging the sore area

In addition to those, there other possible remedies which might apply depending on the cause of the shin splints. They are:

  • Wear different footwear – including possibly corrective footwear for overpronation or oversuplination
  • Utilize arch supports or cushioned inserts (I’ve linked to the ones I personally wear) in your shoes
  • Employ shin splint taping
  • Train on a softer surface
  • Reduce activity for in the short-term, and gradually increase
Whether you are currently suffering from shin splints or just hoping to avoid them, it is also a good idea to strengthen and stretch the appropriate muscles as well. Two exercises that are very effective for shin splint prevention and treatment are the toe walk and the heel walk.

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