Shin splints can be defined as the pain caused in the tibia, the shin bone. Medically, this condition is referred as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS). Shin splints are marked by a dull ache in the lower limbs starting below the knees and spreading upto the ankles. Some times, the pain can be intense too.
The following can cause shin splints:
- Running on an uneven terrain. This results in straining the lower limbs resulting in shin splints.
- Improper foot wear. Wearing sports shoes which do not fit well or are worn out can cause a strain during exercising / sporting activities. This may cause shin splints.
- Overtraining and overexhertion. A sudden increase in the time period or intensity of the work-out can cause shin splints.
- Lack of flexibility of the lower limbs. Weak muscles in the lower limbs.
A thorough physical examination can help the physician detect shin splints. Bone scan may be recommended to rule out other conditions. The physicial examination includes knowing the past medical history of the patient as patients with a past history of shin splints are likely to suffer a repeat attack.
Painkillers are prescribed as a first line of treatment. Rest, physiotherapy, change of lifestyle are some of the other methods advised by doctors to overcome shin splints.
Some home remedies are described here:
To control pain, the best method would be to rest the aching limb. Keep the leg in an elevated position to help better blood circulation to the affected limb. Place pillows under the lower legs as this provides greater comfort and relief from pain.
- Heating pad:
Tie a heat pad around the aching area and rest. Else, place a hot water bottle under the area of pain and press the limb against the heat. This eases the sore muscles and relieves rigidity. This, in turn enables better blood circulation.
Warm a little sesame oil and massage the sore muscles with this oil. Do not use forceful movements. Massage gently at least for ten minutes at a stretch. Repeat frequently to get relief from pain.
Else, invest in an automatic electric massager. With this, you can even do a self massage on the affected area without straining much. The other best option is to get a loved one use the massager on the area of pain.
- Ginger extract:
Crush a piece of ginger and make a paste out of it. Apply this on the area of pain. Ginger being anti-inflammatory, it rids the area of pain and inflammation.
- Stretching exercises:
Some stretching exercises really help in curbing shin splints. Seek the guidance of an experienced physiopath to learn these exercises. Continue doing the stretches even after the pain has subsided to promote flexibility and to strengthen the lower limb muscles.
- Moderate Training:
Once the pain subsides, it is better to start the fitness routine in a slower manner. It is important to start slow and understand the body’s responses. If this causes pain, the message is clear – that you need more rest.
Else, gradually increase the time and intensity of the work-out. This gives enough time for the body to adjust to the rigours of intense exercise.
- Even surface:
Choose an even surface for training. This is more so for walkers and runners who had suffered from shin splints due to training on rugged surfaces.
Orthotics are insoles fitted into sports shoes which provide a cushioning effect to the heels. This helps in avoiding conditions like pain in the feet, shin splints etc. Get custom-made orthotics to solve the problem.
- Change sports shoes:
Buy well-fitting sports shoes to replace the older ones. This helps.