July 16, 2024

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How to Get Rid of Shin Splint? Exploring the Effective Methods & Causes

5 min read

Shin splints, clinically known as medial tibial stress syndrome, are a common issue among athletes, particularly runners, dancers, and military recruits. This condition typically manifests as pain along the inner edge of the shinbone (tibia) and is often caused by sudden increases in physical activity, improper footwear, or biomechanical irregularities. The good news is that there are several effective strategies to alleviate and prevent shin splints. Continue reading to find out how to get rid of shin splint with top 8 effective methods and the causes of it. 

How to get rid of shin splint?

1. Rest and Recovery

The first and most crucial step in treating shin splints is to reduce activities that cause pain.

  • Step 1: Immediately cease any activity that exacerbates the shin pain, such as running or jumping.
  • Step 2: Allow your body time to heal by resting from high-impact activities for several days to weeks, depending on the severity of your pain.
  • Step 3: Gradually reintroduce activity, starting with low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling.

2. Apply Ice

So, how to get rid of shin splint? Icing can help reduce inflammation and pain.

  • Step 1: Wrap ice or a cold pack in a towel (never apply ice directly to the skin).
  • Step 2: Apply the ice to the affected shin area for 20 minutes every two to three hours during the initial days when the pain is most intense.

3. Use Proper Footwear

Wearing the right shoes can significantly impact the stress exerted on your shins.

  • Step 1: Visit a specialty running store to get your running style analyzed.
  • Step 2: Choose shoes that support your arch and help correct any overpronation or underpronation.
  • Step 3: Replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles or as soon as the midsoles show signs of wear.

4. Orthotic Devices

For those with flat feet or abnormal arches, orthotics can provide additional support.

  • Step 1: Consult with a podiatrist to determine if orthotics might benefit you.
  • Step 2: Get custom-made orthotics designed to address your specific foot mechanics.
  • Step 3: Wear the orthotics consistently, especially during physical activities.

5. Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening the muscles in the legs can help prevent the recurrence of shin splints.

  • Step 1: Perform toe curls and heel drops to strengthen the muscles supporting your shinbone.
  • Step 2: Incorporate calf raises and resisted ankle dorsiflexion into your routine.
  • Step 3: Gradually increase the intensity and frequency of these exercises.

6. Flexibility Exercises

Improving flexibility can reduce tension in the muscles surrounding the tibia.

  • Step 1: Stretch your calves and Achilles tendon regularly. Stand facing a wall with one foot behind the other and gently lean forward while keeping your back heel on the ground.
  • Step 2: Perform seated or standing shin stretches by gently pulling your toes upward toward your knee.
  • Step 3: Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times, ensuring you do not feel pain.

7. Modify Your Exercise Routine

Modifying how you exercise can also prevent shin splints.

  • Step 1: Avoid sudden increases in the intensity or duration of your workouts.
  • Step 2: Incorporate a mix of high-impact and low-impact sports to lessen the strain on your shins.
  • Step 3: Ensure proper warm-up and cool-down during your exercise sessions to improve muscle elasticity.

8. Consider Cross-Training

Adding variety to your training can help prevent overuse injuries like shin splints by allowing muscle groups to recover while others work.

  • Step 1: Integrate activities that place less stress on the shins, like cycling, swimming, or yoga.
  • Step 2: Schedule these activities throughout your training regimen to maintain overall fitness without overloading your shins.
  • Step 3: Listen to your body and adjust your activities according to any signs of stress or discomfort.

Causes of Shin Splint

1. Overuse

Overuse is the most frequent cause of shin splints, typically resulting from repetitive stress on the shinbone and the connective tissues that attach muscles to the bone. This is common in sports that involve heavy running or jumping. When activities are intensified too quickly—whether by increasing the duration, frequency, or intensity—without adequate recovery, it can lead to inflammation and pain, hallmarks of shin splints.

2. Improper Footwear

Wearing inappropriate or worn-out shoes can significantly contribute to the development of shin splints. Shoes that lack adequate cushioning or do not provide the necessary support to match the wearer’s foot type (e.g., high arches, flat feet) can increase the stress on the lower leg. This improper support impacts how force is absorbed upon foot strike, and uneven distribution of this force can strain muscles and bones.

3. Poor Running Mechanics

Biomechanical inefficiencies, such as an abnormal gait pattern or improper running form, can lead to shin splints. Issues like overpronation (excessive inward rolling of the foot after landing) or supination (outward rolling) can exacerbate the stress on the shin bones. Additionally, running with a heavy heel strike instead of a mid-foot strike can increase the likelihood of developing this condition.

4. Hard or Uneven Surfaces

Frequently running on hard or uneven surfaces can increase the risk of shin splints. Concrete and other hard materials do not absorb shock well, which means that the forces generated by each footfall are largely transferred back up through the legs, placing extra stress on the shins. Uneven terrain can similarly challenge the lower legs, as the muscles must work harder to stabilise and adapt to the irregular ground.

5. Muscle Imbalance

Weakness in the lower leg muscles or an imbalance between muscle groups can lead to shin splints. If certain muscles in the legs, such as the calf muscles, are much stronger than others, like the anterior tibialis muscle at the front of the shin, it can cause uneven force distribution and increase the load on the tibia.

Conclusion

While shin splints are a common affliction, especially in the athletic community, they are also preventable and manageable with the right approach. Knowing how to get rid of shin splint and by incorporating rest, proper equipment, strength and flexibility training, and thoughtful modification of exercise routines, you can both treat and prevent shin splints. Remember, if your shin pain persists or worsens, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to rule out more serious conditions like stress fractures.

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