We’ve all felt it, that nagging ache and throb that spans nearly the entire length of your shin bone after a run or quick sprint. The dreaded shin splint. If you’re a runner, you know what I’m talking about.
Shin splints are a fairly common form of post-run torture that make you groan, dance on your tiptoes as you walk, and generally swear off running for the rest of life–but you do run again because you’re after results, right?
What Causes Shin Splints?
These twinges of pain might be caused by a number of factors:
- Swollen/irritated muscles. Perhaps the main cause of shin splints, swollen and irritated muscles are often a result of simple overuse. This is a pretty common thing for the irregular runner, but may even happen to a seasoned one.
- Weak hip or core muscles. If your hips and core are weak or poorly stabilized, your running posture can suffer, and as a result, shin splints may develop.
- Overpronation (known as “flat feet”). This occurs when the impact of your step causes the arch of your foot to collapse and become flat. It’s important to support proper pronation with good running shoes (the rule of thumb is to replace them every six months if you’re a regular runner).
- Stress fractures. Every now and again, that pain you’re feeling might be something a little more serious than a typical shin splint–it could be a small break in your lower leg bone, which is commonly referred to as a stress fracture. These are almost always the result of repeated stress over time (running too often or too far every day).
If you’re experiencing shin splints, one of the factors mentioned above is likely the culprit. However, if you suspect a stress fracture, don’t keep running, or you may risk a more serious injury. See your healthcare provider instead.
The first logical step, of course, would be to pinpoint what caused your shin splints in the first place. This can be a bit difficult, especially if you’re new to running, but it’s always important to get it figured out so you can correct the problem. While this may not guarantee you won’t get shin splints again, it could help you avoid them more often.
Shin splints will usually go away on their own, but there are steps that you can (and should!) take to get rid of the pain sooner rather than later:
- Rest. While this one should be a no-brainer, there are people who tend to ignore their bodies when they beg for rest. Don’t be one of those people. If your shins hurt, if it hurts to stretch or walk, you need to rest. Your body deserves it, and in many cases, pushing through the pain to keep going results in worse pain and the possibility of a more severe injury.
- Ice your shins regularly. It’s no secret that ice helps reduce swelling and ease pain. Icing doesn’t have to take up a lot of time, but you’re supposed to be resting anyway, right? Right. Ice your shins for 20-30 minutes every four hours or so until the pain is gone.
- Address swelling and inflammation with quality natural supplements. Inflammation is a real issue when it comes to shin splints and athletic performance. Rather than reach for acetaminophen or ibuprofen, why not try Curamin or Wobenzyme PS? Both provide all-natural pain relief without the toxins and potential organ damage.
- Wrap your shins with an elastic bandage or use a neoprene sleeve. Doing this helps lessen muscle movement in your leg, which can aggravate shin splints. It also warms your shins and muscles, which can make you feel more comfortable.
Remember, if the pain doesn’t go away, don’t run. And make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you feel you need to. Never risk a more serious injury because you think it’ll be fine in a few days.
If you’re curious about other supplements for inflammation and pain relief, below are a few of my favorites:
- Biofreeze Pain-Relieving Gel from Biofreeze
- Meriva SR Curcumin Phytosome by Thorne Research
- CuraMed from Terry Naturally
Are My Shins Healed?
While the lack of pain is a good indicator that your shins could be healed, there are other ways to test it, too:
- See if your legs are as flexible as they were before the shin splints started. If you’re only experiencing the splints in one leg, test the flexibility of that leg against your other leg. Also test for leg strength, too.
- Jog, sprint, or jump to see if there’s no pain. If there isn’t, your shins could be healed. However, if you’re still experiencing pain, don’t push it any further. Rest and consider calling your healthcare provider.
- If you’ve been diagnosed with stress fractures, you’ll have further x-rays to make sure they’re healed.
Shin splints can be irritating and painful, but we’ve all been there at least once. The most important thing is to listen to your body and rest when you need to.
DO you have any special ways you treat shin splints? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment below!
Featured Image Credit: Dawn via Flickr.com.