Do You Know the Symptoms and Treatment of Shin Splints?


One of the major injuries that runners, athletes, and tennis players incur are the Shin Splints. It is a term that is used for lower leg pain. This pain can be excruciating and take days to heal, thus affecting a sportsman’s regime. Shin Splints are more frequent in the beginners who suddenly start following a heavy regime and the professionals who suddenly change their work-out regime. In the passage, the symptoms and effective treatment of shin splints have been discussed.

The Symptoms and Treatment of Shin Splints

Shin splints are also called the Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome and it is one of the most common injuries associated with the runners. Here is everything you need to know about shin splints.

What is a Shin Splint?





shin splints

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The shin bone is the frontal bone in the leg around which the muscles are wrapped. When these muscles are overused due to the excessive physical activity, it can cause a minute tear in it which is basically known as a shin splint. The relentless pressure on the muscles and the bones prevents the splint from healing. This injury is the result of the cumulative pressure on the lower portion of the leg can be confused with other injuries such as the stress fracture. 

Here is how you can identify whether you have shin splints or not.

The Symptoms of Shin Splints

shin splints

There are numerous causes that can result in pain in the lower portion of a leg, which always does not mean that person has shin splints. There are many common conditions that can be mistaken for shin splints such as:

1) Compartment Syndrome

Sometimes the pain in the lower portion of the leg can be compartment syndrome. Due to excessive pressure on the muscles in a compartment, they can swell and ache. Some other effects entail nerve sensation and muscle weakness.To treat the compartment syndrome a surgical decompression is required.

2) Stress Fracture

The pain in shin can also be a repercussion of a stress fracture. The stress fracture is even graver than shin splints. If you are doubtful that you could have sustained a stress fracture then you should get a bone scan. If the pain in the shin is more concentrated and sharp then it could be one of the signs of a stress fracture. 

3) Tendinitis

Tendons are the part of the muscles, which are attached to a bone. Tendinitis is a condition which occurs when the tendons get inflamed due to the increased physical activity. It is most prevalent in the lower leg. Tendinitis makes the tendons very tender. Whenever there is contraction or expansion of the muscles, the inflammation in the tendons can be felt. Runners are most susceptible to Achilles tendinitis. If the runners increase their speed suddenly without a gradual built of stamina in the body the Achilles tendinitis can strike. The other causes are over-pronation or under-pronation, worn out shoes or shoes without proper soul support. Icing therapy for 15 minutes on a daily basis can help to assuage the tendinitis. The other treatments include taking proper rest and attending physiotherapy sessions.

4) Popliteal Artery Compression

It is quite uncommon that during any physical activity the popliteal artery gets compressed. If it happens, it causes severe pain in the lower leg and can be mistaken for the shin splint. Due to the compression, the blood flow in leg muscles becomes inadequate and it starts painting. For treating this pain, generally, surgery is the answer.

The following symptoms can help you to differentiate between the shin splints and lower leg pain caused due to other factors.

  • Generally, there is a mild ache in the lower portion of the leg if a person sustains shin splint
  • This pain escalates if a person indulges in strenuous physical activities
  • If there is a pain sideways on the shin bone
  • If there is a muscle pain which is bearable yet discomforting
  • Pain in the lower portion and in the anterior region of the leg
  • If there is weakness or numbness in the feet
  • If the lower leg mildly swells

If you have been experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms then you need to try some of the remedies at home. Try using ice and heat therapy. If the problem persists visit your doctor.

In addition, there are a few symptoms, which are the clear indicators of a shin splint and you must visit the consultant immediately if you have been experiencing any of these.

  • If you are experiencing the pain after an accident, a fall or an injury
  • If the pain is sharp and it feels hot
  • If you can see your shin is visibly swollen
  • If this swelling is getting worse with time
  • Even in the position of the rest, the pain is persisting.

The Common Causes of Shin Splints

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Numerous factors can result in shin splints. One of the common causes is under-eversion or over-eversion during running or any other rigorous physical activities. Worn-out shoes and inadequate pressure on legs and can cause misbalanced eversion. Most of the times, the problem will address one of your legs.

The seasoned runners usually feel pain in the medial region which is inside of the shin. The beginners might feel pain in the anterior of the leg. An imbalance is generated in the muscles in the front portion of the leg and the calf muscles due to a sudden increase in the physical activity which why generally, the beginners feel pain in the anterior region. 

 Therefore, after every session, a proper stretching is required.

There are some risk factors that a person needs to be cautious of:

Some of the Risk Factors for Shin Splints

The major risk factor is obviously taking part in rigorous physical activities.  The other factors that add to the risk are as follows

  • A general negligence towards fitness in addition to the consumption of alcohol and smoking
  • Taking part or increasing a physical activity suddenly without giving the opportunity to your body to build stamina.
  • Playing sports like basketball and tennis which are played on very hard surfaces
  • Running on uneven surfaces or hill
  • Tight calf or Achilles muscles that are not used to being used severely

How to Treat Shin Splints?

shin splints ice thearpy

If a person is diagnosed with shin splints then he needs to give up strenuous activities immediately. The leg needs to rest for a duration, depending on the damage and pain. You can try applying the heat and ice therapy for curtailing the inflammation. Do not procrastinate visiting a physiotherapist or consultant. You can also use compression bandages for temporary relief. In addition, here are some of the exercises you could use.

1) Stretching the Calf muscles and Achilles

treating shin splints

Stretching is a good way for relaxing muscles. If the splints are medial, then Achilles muscles need to be stretched. For the anterior splints, the calves need stretching. Remember do not overstrain the muscles. The stretches need to be gentle. For this, kneel on the floor. Keep the feet and legs together and point the toes backward. Bend backward onto your heels and calves. You will feel a tension in the calf muscles. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Come back to normal position very slowly. Relax for 4, 5 deep breaths and repeat this exercise 10 times.

2) Walking on Heels

shin splints exercise

Walk on heels for 35 seconds then walk regularly for another 35. Repeat this set 4, 5 times a day. This is an effective exercise for prevention and recovery.

Training while Treatment

If you want to continue running, then it is best advisable to use bandages to wrap the legs. This releases stress from the muscles by binding the tendons.

The pain generally takes 6 to 8 weeks to subside. When returning, gradually increase the speed. Also, do not run on hilly roads and hard surfaces initially. If you often sustain injuries then stretch the calf muscles on a regular basis.

How to Prevent Shin Splints?

  • Lessing the pressure and impact on the muscles. If you are not a professional athlete then you can use some of the physical activities with the lessened impact such as cycling or walking. These activities have good health benefits and risk of injuries is also less. Cross training is also effective for maintaining a decent level of fitness.
  • Learn to build the stamina in the muscles and bones which means doing physical activities step by step. Jumping right into a heavy physical activity is likely to cause an injury.
  • Always make sure that your training shoes are in good condition to provide the necessary support. You will be surprised to know how many injuries can occur just by wearing worn-out shoes while training sessions. Depending upon your pronation decide the kind of shoes you need.    
  • Use compression bands and supports if necessary. However, overuse of these bands is also harmful as it weakens the muscles.

Any injury related to the bones and muscles rips you off your normal routine. It becomes a backbreaking task to overcome it. Hence, having sufficient knowledge about a particular injury is necessary for its treatment and prevention.  

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