A popular trend in modern society is the incorporation of a healthy lifestyle. With individuals being burdened by their active work schedules, it has become increasingly difficult to achieve a healthy balance between work and life. Most professionals might even consider this work-life balance a mythical concept as it continues to elude the majority of the working population.
In order to squeeze in some form of physically activity into their jam packed schedules, the first exercise that springs to their mind is running. It is easy to carry out, requires no supervision and does not involve the use of any equipment. However, there are certain risks that comes along with running activities.
The most common injuries caused by running comes in the form of muscles aches and cramps. For people who have been physically inactive for prolonged periods of time, they might experience some signs and symptoms of joint pain as well. Among the range of muscle discomfort that has the potential to affect runners, shin splints have proven itself to be one of the most cumbersome issues.
Fitness experts define shin splints as a sharp discomfort in the lower leg and shin area as a result of extended running. The degree of discomfort can be magnified by running on hard surfaces. According to the McKinley Health Center of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, approximately one-fifth of runners will experience at least one episode of shin splints discomfort.
Causes of Shin Splints
It should be noted that shin splints are a specific injury to runners only. Other sports that places huge amounts of pressure on the legs are equally susceptible to suffering from shin splints. Some of the sports include football, soccer and basketball. Individuals should be aware that shin splints affect the muscles in the lower leg and should not be confused with other injuries such as severe joint pain.
Due to the prevalence of shin splints, many fitness professionals have come forward with their own theory of the origin of shin splints. Despite the variety of reasons attributed to the onset of shin splints, most of them center around the same principles.
The general rule of thumb provides that the intensity of each workout should not increase by more than 10% between each interval. Failure to heed this advice increases the risk of shin splints.
Rigid arches, flat feet and ankles rolling inward on impact are malfunctions in the body that directly increases the odds of suffering from shin splints. This is due to the imbalanced distribution of pressure on the lower legs, causing excess burden.
When running down a slope, the toes comes in contact with the ground first, followed by the rest of the feet. This places additional pressure on the shin upon first impact and can result in the occurrence of shin splints.
Inadequate fitness gear
Most people stick to their comfort gears when it comes to exercising. While worn out shoes are comfortable to use, they do not provide adequate protection to the feet. As these shoes provide less impact absorption, the feet become more exposed to shin splints.
Engaging in physical activities on hard surfaces also contribute towards the prevalence of shin splints. Runners would have noticed the difference between running on tracks as compared to concrete surfaces. Running tracks are able to provide more impact absorption and puts less pressure on the lower leg, reducing the risk of any injuries.
Prior history of shin splints
Unfortunately, people who have suffered from shin splints previously are more likely to experience the same issue again. To complicate matters, the recovery period for shin splints are rather difficult to gauge. Resuming physical activities prematurely can further aggravate the injury, resulting in prolonged periods on the treatment table.
Treatments for Shin Splints
Fitness experts are univocal in their opinion that the first measure to adopt during instances of shin splints is to decrease the training intensity immediately.
In more severe cases where the pain becomes unbearable, a complete break from any physical activity is required. After evaluating the seriousness of shin splints, individuals can undertake the following treatment methods:
- Refrain from putting pressure on the legs for one week
- Apply ice pressure to the shin to ease the inflammation
- Keep leg elevated whenever possible
- For effective pain management, painkillers can be prescribed to ease the discomfort
- Wear compression sleeves to aid in muscle recovery
The presence of shin splints in any physical activity is a clear indication of a faulty workout routine or incorrect application of technique. Although this form of injury affects runners predominantly, other sports such as basketball, soccer and football are equally susceptible. Based on the suggestion and guide above, individuals should be more equipped to prevent and treat any case of shin splints that may present themselves in the future. As a general word of caution, persistent shin splints that lasts for more than a week are not normal. Health professionals should be consulted to determine if any underlying conditions are aggravating the condition or preventing a full recovery.