Shin splints is also known as medial tibial stress syndrome and is a general term that is used to describe the pain at the front of the shin after an activity or exercise.
Shin splints is an inflammation of your periosteum (outer covering of bone) of your tibia.
The pain is usually along the inner part of the tibia and it hurts badly when you dorsiflex your foot. So how does this happen?
This happens when your calves muscles are overworked from absorbing the impact of your running and assisting to propel you forward while running.
It is an overuse injury associated to runners.
This is because when you are running; with every stride, you are placing very high stress and pressure on the tibia.
As the muscles are overworked, it compresses the tibia and eventually inflammation occurs.
Sign and Symptoms
The common pain area is pain along the medial (inner part) part of the tibia, it may be at the higher or lower parts only.
The pain can be at one shin or both shin.
Common sign and symptoms:
- Tenderness on the shin.
- Painful when dorsiflexing the foot.
- Sharp pain, throbbing, dull pain at shin.
- May occur during or after an activity/exercise.
- Extremely painful when climbing up and down stairs.
Causes of Shin Splints
Shin splints are usually caused by “too much, too soon” in exercise or activity that you did e.g., you suddenly start to go for a jog or a hike or rope skipping.
If you suddenly incorporate high-intensity exercise(s) to your daily routine which require a lot of jumping and jogging, you face the risk of developing shin splints.
Note: always start any exercise with the lowest intensity and gradually build up intensity over the weeks instead.
Common causes of shin splints:
- Flat foot.
- Overpronation of foot.
- Weak and tight calf muscles.
- Excessive jogging and running.
- Inadequate warm up and cooldown.
- Improper shoes. So how do you choose the right running shoes?
As soon as you feel any pain in your shin during or after exercise, stop immediately and rest!
While you are resting, apply ice on your painful shin for 15-20 minutes, 3 times a day.
Besides, you can apply bandage compression on your shin.
This video demonstrates how to bandage your shin for shin splints, make sure it isn’t too tight nor too loose:
*Press your toenail after bandaging and if it turns pink or red immediately it is okay, if it takes few seconds, it is too tight.
Rehabilitation for Shin Splints
The rehabilitation process starts as soon as you are injured. Rehabilitation consists of stretching and strengthening.
Once the pain has subsided, you can start to do some stretching exercises to prevent muscle tightness followed by strengthening exercises.
This process usually takes few weeks to fully recover.
Don’t do any running or jumping exercises during this period. It is crucial for you to undergo the rehabilitation process to ensure your full recovery.
Stretching for Shin Splints
You should do both of these stretches 3 repetitions on each leg, hold for 15 seconds each, 1-2 times a day, everyday.
Stretching is important to relieve the muscle tightness and improve your calves muscle flexibility.
Strengthening Exercises for Shin Splints
The simplest and easiest way to strengthen your calves muscles is to do calf raise.
You can do 8-12 reps, 2-4 sets, 120 seconds rest between sets, once a day, 4-5 times a week.
Gradually increase the repetitions and sets when you feel more comfortable after a few sessions.
You can progress to the single-leg calf raise once you can do 15 reps, 4-5 sets of the double leg calf raise.
For the single-leg calf raise, you can do 8-12 reps, 3-4 sets, 90 seconds rest between sets, once a day, 4-5 times a week.
If you have a foam roller at home or an access to it, you can try foam rolling for your calves muscles. It is a type of “self-massage” that you can do to reduce muscle tension and muscle soreness.
All information and data on this blog site or website is for informational purposes only. I make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information.
I will not be liable for any injuries, damages, errors, omissions, or any losses arising from its display or use. All information is provided AS IS with no warranties, and confers no rights. Read more here.
These rehabilitation exercises for shin splints are NOT to be taken nor considered as a professional advise.
I am not your sport therapist nor I know about your shin splints (everyone’s shin splints is different). You should consult your local healthcare provider or local physical therapist before beginning any exercise program.
Take Home Massage
Shin splints is a common injury among runners but this can be prevented with proper rehabilitation of the calves muscles and gradual increase in running intensity.
Prevention is better than rehabilitation!
There are many types of injuries that also plague runners and usually affecting the knee. Some of the most common ones are:
As a runner, even ankle injuries are quite common as you may land your stride on to an uneven surface and sprain your ankle.
However, ankle injuries are more common among basketball players.
Preventing these injuries from happening is way easier process than rehabilitation.
It is better to strengthen your muscles gradually while doing your favourite exercise.
Strengthening exercises are like the foundation of a building. If the foundation of the building is strong, the building won’t topple.
Same goes to you, if your muscles are strong, the chances for you to be injured is much lower.