Experiencing Shin Splints
A great run can easily turn into a nightmare if you develop shin splints. Running is one of my favorite Summer activities and anything that gets in the way of it is something that I try to avoid. Have you ever felt a bad case of shin splints while getting your run in? Shin splints (aka medial tibial stress syndrome) occur regularly in athletes of all types and can occur in up to 1/3 of our population at some point in their lives. Symptoms are often worse with exertion and can be described as a vague pain over the area of the shins (the middle and front of the lower leg).
Shin splint pain is primarily caused by repeated running or jumping on hard surfaces but there are a number of other factors including joint mobility (from the feet all the way up to the lumbar spine), footwear, foot biomechanics, and gait/running patterns that play a large role in their development. Other activities such as hiking or repeated jumping can also cause shin splints. Many people who get them become despondent at the emergence of shin splints because they can derail training very easily. The good news is that conservative chiropractic care can do wonders for the condition should it arise. Today we will talk about 5 tips that you can use to help combat shin splints if they become a problem for you during your workouts.
Ways to Resolve Shin Splint Pain
- Let Yourself Rest: The best method of getting over a bad case of shin splints is to give your affected areas a chance to rest. This can be very difficult for those that have physical goals that they are working towards, so our additional recommendation to that is to try another similar activity and see if it doesn’t cause an increase in symptoms. Lower stress alternatives to running are stationary cycling, swimming, elliptical exercise, and rowing.
- Get Evaluated by a Great Chiropractor: There are usually a few other things going on with shin splints in addition to overuse. Foot mechanics and other joint mobility issues can commonly cause issues with gait (how you walk and run) which in turn, causes more stress in the areas that you are experiencing discomfort. A good chiropractor will evaluate those areas and other areas related to the kinetic chain and will ensure that things are moving properly to facilitate healing from sports injuries. They will typically utilize exercise, stretching, rest, joint adjustments, and soft tissue work to address your issues. You also may be experiencing numbness or other odd feelings in addition to the pain. This could be a sign of a exercise-induced compartment syndrome and may warrant further investigation from the chiropractor.
- Do Your Stretches: Poor or complete lack of stretching can lead to all sorts of musculoskeletal issues including shin splints. Proper health maintenance, before and after exercise, can do wonders to prevent these types of injuries from arising in the first place. Check out the video below for 4 stretches to help with shin splints in general.
- Treat Yourself & Buy a Great Pair of Shoes: A good pair of shoes that match the characteristics of your training and your feet can make a world of difference in your comfort and the biomechanics of your activity. I personally like to shop at local places like Skinny Raven Sports because they have deep understanding and experience with shoe selection. They will help you select a shoe that supports your feet properly as you are out there enjoying the things that you want to do. Remember, there is a lifespan for running shoes, and you should replace them regularly. The general advice is to replace them every 300-500 miles or so.
- Ease Back Into Activity: Gradually return to your previous level of activity after you have healed. Too often people will rest from a case of shin splints and then attempt to pick back up where they left off. This can lead to setbacks in healing and a re-injury of the offending area. I often will use a return to play suggestion of running 1/4 mile to start with gradual increases as the patient is able to tolerate the activity while pain-free. A number of different modifications may be necessary depending on the case.
Shin splints don’t have to ruin what could otherwise be a wonderful training season. With the right advice and a little work, people can often overcome shin splints with minimally invasive techniques such as chiropractic care. Getting enough rest, having an evaluation by a qualified healthcare professional such as a chiropractor, doing your stretches, wearing good shoes, and returning to previous levels of activity slowly are my 5 tips for handling pesky shin splints. If you, or anyone you know, are dealing with this problem, I would love to help you overcome it. Give us a call at 907-222-2100 to schedule an appointment.
Here’s a video on 3 stretches that we like to do for shin splints: