Saturday, May 21, 2005

Shin Splints Explained

by Richard Lauro

Shin splints fall in the category of injuries caused by overuse. Generally all athletes experience some form of pain in the calf or shin sooner or later in their lives.

There are several types of overuse injuries such as tendonitis, stress fracture that may develop in this region as a result of the repeated pounding from running and shin splints are one of them.

When we say that someone is suffering from this type of sports injury, then we are referring to a painful condition that develops along the inside (medial edge) of the shin (tibia).

The usual location of shin splints happening is along the lower half of the tibia which may be anywhere from a few inches above the ankle to about half-way up the shin.

The frequent running cycle of beating and push off results in muscle fatigue, which may then lead to higher forces being applied to the fascia, the attachment of fascia to bone, and finally the bone itself.

Respectively, this represents a spectrum from mild to severe. On the relatively more severe end of the scale the injury may progress from stress reaction within the bone to an actual stress fracture.

Some of the classic symptoms of shin splints include:

Tenderness over the inside of the shin.
Pain in the lower leg
Sometimes one can experience some swelling in the lower leg.
Some form of lumps and bumps over the bone.
Feeling of pain when the toes or foot are bent downwards.
Redness over the inside of the shin
The treatment for shin splints is rest. Depending upon severity it is often necessary to completely stop running for a period of time. Generally this is done until day-to-day activities are pain free.

Do the following if you experience any of the symptoms of shin splints.

See a Muscle Activation Technique Therapist to correct muscular imbalances
Rest. The sooner you rest the sooner it will heal.
Apply ice in the early stages when it is very painful.
Wear shock absorbing insoles in shoes.
Maintain fitness with other non weight bearing exercises.
Apply heat and use a heat retainer after the initial acute stage, particularly before training.
Strengthening the lower leg muscles can help prevent the injury from returning. However the most important preventive strategy is not to repeat the mistakes that lead to the injury at the first place.

One should examine all the training variables - surface, shoes, training volume, intensity, workout type, hills, weather conditions, etc. it is advisable to seek help from a qualified MAT therapist, coach or a sports injury specialist who can advise on treatment and rehabilitation. This all will take time and effort, but it is well worth it.

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Originally Posted on 5/21/2005 10:54:48 AM


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