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Shin Splints

What Are Shin Splints?

leg painThe shin is the tibia bone, which is the large bone in your lower leg. When you start getting pain along this area of your leg, this is called shin splints, or is also known as medial tibial stress syndrome. Shin splints is very common in athletes who do sports like running or dancing. The pain is due to the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue in this area being overworked, and putting too much stress on the tibia bone.

What Are The Symptoms Of Shin Splints?

The main symptoms of shin splints is pain or tenderness along the inner side of your shin bone. There may also be some swelling in your lower leg. When you first get shin splints the pain will likely stop when you stop exercising. However, if you continue to do the same activity without resting and recovery, the pain can progress to where the pain is continuous even when you’re not exercising. In serious cases shin splints can progress to a stress fracture in the tibia bone. Stress fractures are pretty much tiny cracks in a bone that happen due to overuse and repetitive force.

What Are Some Of The Causes And Risk Factors For Shin Splints?

Shin splints are caused by repetitive stress and force on the tibia, and the surrounding muscles and tendons that attach to this bone. There are certain things that can leave you more at risk to developing shin splints. There include:

  1. If you are a runner, especially if you are just starting a new running program. You are even more at risk if you are running on hard surfaces such as concrete, or uneven surfaces such as hills or trails.
  2. If you are an athlete in a sport that places a lot of stress on the legs, such as a dancer.
  3. You suddenly increase the intensity, frequency, and/or duration of exercise.
  4. You have flat feet or high arches.

What Can Be Done To Help Heal Shin Splints?

In most cases shin splints can be healed with some at home self care. This includes:

  1. Rest: this is going to be the most important thing in healing shin splints. Avoid the activity/activities that are causing pain, discomfort, or swelling. While rest is important, you shouldn’t completely stop all physical activity. Keep up with lower impact exercises such as swimming, biking, or walking.
  2. Ice: ice will help to reduce any swelling in the lower leg. Apply an ice pack to the affected area for 15-20 minutes, and do this 4-8 times a day, for several days. Make sure you don’t apply the ice pack directly on to the skin, cover it with something thin like a paper towel or tea towel.

How Can A Chiropractor Help With Shin Splints?

If there are misalignments in any of the joints in your hips, knees, or ankles, this is going to place more stress on the muscles, and bones in your legs, and may contribute to shin splints happening. When these areas are misaligned, it causes improper motion of the joints, and if joints are not moving the way they are supposed to, it is going to lead to excess stress on the surrounding tissues.

Chiropractors are able to help by adjusting the joints in your hips, knees, and ankles in order to restore the proper joint motion to these areas. This helps to remove any excess stress off the shin bone when you are doing your activity, such as running. Your chiropractor will also be able to offer you advice on ways to prevent shin splints from happening, or to help heal them if you are currently suffering from shin splints.

What Can Be Done To Prevent Shin Splints?

There are certain things you can do to prevent shin splints from happening. These include:

  1. Avoid over training: too much running, or training of another high impact sport for long periods or at a high intensity puts too much stress on the shin bones and can lead to shin splints.
  2. Analyse your form: your shin splints may be due to poor running form. Spend some time with a coach analysing your running technique and seeing what improvements can be made that will help to take stress off the shin bone.
  3. Cross train: consider cross training with lower impact sports such as swimming, biking, or running. These sports will place less stress on the shin bones but will still keep you fit.
  4. Choose the right shoes: it is important that you have a good quality pair of shoes that are going to protect your feet and support your legs properly. If you are running long distances it is important that you are replacing your shoes relatively regularly as well worn shoes aren’t going to support your feet and legs as well.
  5. Consider inserts to your shoes to support your feet: these may be arch supports, which are especially good for those who have flat arches, or shock absorbing insoles, which can help to take some of the stress off the legs when running on hard surfaces.
  6. Include strength training in your workouts: doing exercises to strengthen all parts of your legs, and also your core, can help keep your body better supported and minimise the stress being placed on the shin bone.