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Kicking Shin Splints to the Curb: Tips to Manage and Prevent Them.




Hey there, fellow fitness enthusiasts and athletes! Today, let's talk about a common ailment that often rears its pesky head among runners, dancers, and other active individuals: shin splints. If you've ever experienced that sharp, stabbing pain along the front of your lower leg during exercise, you know just how much of a nuisance it can be. But fear not, because I've got some tips to help you manage and prevent those shin splints from cramping your style.



What Are Shin Splints?


First things first, let's understand what we're dealing with here. Shin splints, or medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), refers to pain along the shinbone (tibia), which can occur on the front or inside of the leg. It's often caused by repetitive stress on the shinbone and the tissues attaching the muscles to the bone [1].



Managing Shin Splints:


1. Rest and Recovery: When you start feeling that tell-tale pain, it's crucial to give your legs a break. Rest is often the best remedy for shin splints, allowing the inflamed tissues to heal.


2. Ice and Compression: Applying ice packs to the affected area for about 10-20 minutes when symptoms flare up can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.


3. Stretching and Strengthening: When tolerated, incorporate stretches targeting the calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and the muscles surrounding the shinbone to improve flexibility and reduce strain on the shins. Additionally, exercises to strengthen the muscles of the lower leg and foot can help prevent future occurrences.


4. Proper Footwear: Investing in quality, supportive footwear designed for your specific activity can make a world of difference. Running shoes with adequate cushioning and arch support can help absorb shock and reduce the impact on your shins [2].



Preventing Shin Splints:


1. Gradual Progression: Avoid overloading your muscles by gradually increasing the intensity, duration, and frequency of your workouts. Sudden spikes in activity levels can put undue stress on your shins and lead to injury [3].


2. Cross-Train: Mix up your exercise routine to reduce repetitive strain on your legs. Incorporate low-impact activities like swimming or cycling to give your shins a break while still maintaining overall fitness.


3. Proper Technique: Whether you're running, jumping, or dancing, pay attention to your form. Using proper technique can help distribute forces more evenly throughout your body, reducing the strain on your shins [4].


4. Listen to Your Body: Don't ignore the warning signs. If you start feeling discomfort in your shins, take it as a cue to dial back your intensity or switch to a different activity until the pain subsides. Pushing through the pain can worsen the injury and prolong recovery time.



In a nutshell, shin splints might be a common setback for many active individuals, but they're certainly not insurmountable. By incorporating these tips into your routine and giving your legs the TLC they deserve, you can bid farewell to those pesky shin splints and get back to doing what you love – pain-free!


Our Barnet, Cockfosters & Enfield Physio's can assist with shin splints. Have confidence that our specialist Physiotherapists will closely assess, diagnose & treat you in the correct & evidence-based way for all lower limb injuries. You can book an appointment here.



Blog By: Emre Oz (Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist at Crouch Physio).



References:


1. Galbraith, R.M. and Lavallee, M.E., 2009. Medial tibial stress syndrome: conservative treatment options. Current reviews in musculoskeletal medicine, 2, pp.127-133.


2. Messier, S.P. and Pittala, K.A., 1988. Etiologic factors associated with selected running injuries. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 20(5), pp.501-505.


3. Moore, M.P., 1988. Shin splints: diagnosis, management, prevention. Postgraduate Medicine, 83(1), pp.199-210


4. Loudon, J.K. and Reiman, M.P., 2012. Lower extremity kinematics in running athletes with and without a history of medial shin pain. International journal of sports physical therapy, 7(4), p.356.

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