Greetings, fellow fitness enthusiasts! Has this ever happened when you’re jogging through a picturesque park, feeling the wind in your hair and the rhythm in your stride, when suddenly, an unwelcome guest crashes the party – shin splints! That pesky, nagging pain along the shinbone can really sabotage your active lifestyle. Fear not! We’re here to help you understand why runners need to be aware of shin splints and how to treat and prevent them. Let’s take a look at how to avoid shin splints.
What are shin splints?
Dr Raghu Nagaraj, Director of Orthopedics and Joint Replacement, Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru, told Health Shots that shin splints refer to the discomfort experienced along the shinbone, that is the front part of the lower leg, usually resulting from overuse or repetitive stress on it. The condition occurs when the muscles and tendons surrounding the shinbone become inflamed due to excessive strain. Factors contributing to the development of shin splints include overexertion during physical activity, wrong footwear, structural irregularities in the feet, and muscle imbalance.
How to heal shin splints fast?
To effectively address shin splints, here are some treatments recommended by Dr Nagaraj:
1. Rest and recovery
It is crucial to allow the affected leg time to heal by resting from activities that exacerbate the pain. Avoiding high-impact exercises and giving the muscles and tendons sufficient time to recover is essential.
2. Cold therapy
Applying ice packs or cold compresses to the affected area can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Ice therapy should be performed for 15-20 minutes, several times a day, especially after physical activity.
3. Gradual return to activity
Once pain subsides, gradually reintroduce physical activity to allow the body to adapt to higher demands over time. Avoid sudden increases in intensity or duration of exercises to prevent re-injury.
4. Take medicine
Over the counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen, can help manage pain and reduce inflammation associated with shin splints. These medications can provide temporary relief while you recover and engage in other treatment methods. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any medication.
How to prevent shin splints?
If you are regularly indulging in exercises like jogging or running then you must keep these preventive measures in mind to avoid getting shin splints:
1. Surface considerations
Often people start jogging on the cemented road around their house and that is the worst one can do. Running or exercising on hard or uneven surfaces increases the risk of shin splints. Choose soft surfaces instead like grass, dirt tracks, or rubber tracks, that are easily accessible in parks these days, to reduce impact and stress on the shins.
2. Gradual increase in intensity
One of the primary causes of shin splints is sudden increases in activity level or intensity. “It is crucial to gradually increase the duration, frequency, and intensity of exercise to allow the body to adapt and become stronger over time,” says Dr Nagaraj.
3. Proper footwear
The expert advises that wearing appropriate footwear that provides sufficient arch support, cushioning, and shock absorption is essential in preventing shin splints. Replace old or worn-out shoes regularly to maintain optimal support.
4. Stretching and strengthening exercises
Regular stretching of the calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and shin muscles can enhance flexibility and prevent imbalances. Additionally, incorporating exercises for calf muscles, such as heel raises and toe walks, can help strengthen the lower leg.
In the event that shin splint pain persists or intensifies despite self-care measures, it is advisable to seek professional medical guidance. A healthcare provider can provide a precise diagnosis and offer personalised advice to effectively manage shin splints, ensuring a swift return to pain-free physical activity. Shin splints can be a frustrating and painful condition, but with proper treatment and preventive measures, individuals can find relief and minimize the risk of recurrence.