Shin splints is a collect - all term used to describe a variety of pains in the lower leg. The pain is typically located around the large shin bone (tibia) on the inside of the lower leg.
While exercise is good for the systems of your body, it is also stressful. The body reacts to this stress by getting stronger. Stresses applied too quickly do not allow time for the body to adapt. Instead of strength, injury, minor cracks in bones ( stress fractures ), and swelling may occur.
With shin splints the area often seems to get tighter when active and may even force a change in your walking style. Persistent pain, numbness in the foot, or brief and intense pain in the shin should not be ignored and you should seek your sports physician to answer your questions.
Running is the most common cause of shin splints. The impact of your body weight striking the ground produces both muscle and bone trauma which may cause microscopic tears of the muscle at the bony attachments.
Lack of lower leg flexibility reduces your shin's ability to adapt to changes and perform properly.
Shin splints often occur with most changes in activity. People who are already conditioned may develop shin splints when they drastically or quickly increase their intensity and/or duration of exercise.
Unconditioned people who begin an exercise program without allowing sufficient time to prepare are very susceptible.
A stiff soled shoe or uneven terrain may be enough to cause shin splints when combined with other factors. Shoes should have a firm heel counter and a flexible forefoot.
Since shin splints is a broad term used to describe a variety of aches, you should not assume that there is one answer for everyone. Any doubts should be referred to your health professional.
The following steps may relieve the discomfort of shin splints:
Rest the injured area. Avoid activities which bring out the pain.
Do not start an exercise program too quickly. Take time to build a strong physical foundation that can handle the stress of exercise without breaking down.
Do not return form an injury too quickly.
Stretch the back of the lower leg ( heel cord ) by leaning against a wall with both straight legs and bent legs making certain that your heels stay on the ground. Hold each position for 30 seconds and repeat 4-5 times daily.
Apply cold compresses for 10 - 15 minutes immediately after exercise to reduce inflammation.
Apply moist heat to the area for 20 - 30 minutes sometime during the day to improve circulation.
Warm-up before and cool - down after exercise.
Run on softer surfaces such as grass or an outdoor track.
Strengthen your shins by sitting on the edge of a table with a weight hanging from your toes. Curl your toes up toward the head. Typical routines are 10 -15 repetitions for 3 sets, but you should find your own routine and seek professional advice if you have any questions.