How Long Does It Take For Shin Splints To Heal
“When you begin running or working out, your body adapts to the stresses placed on it. Your muscles become stronger and more efficient at absorbing those stresses. When you do the same thing over and over again, your body learns how to handle that particular workload. This allows your bones and joints to grow stronger as well.
But sometimes this process goes awry. The result is muscle pain and inflammation. There are two common types of injuries that cause shin splints – stress fractures and muscular tears. Stress fractures occur when too much pressure is put on the bone during repetitive activities. Muscular tearing occurs when too much force is exerted on a muscle without enough flexibility in the joint where it attaches to the bone. These conditions can be caused by poor posture, bad form and training techniques.
Shin splint treatment varies depending on what’s causing them. If they’re brought on by overtraining, the duration for recovery varies depending on whether the injury is related to the lower leg or upper part of the leg (tibia). In either case, however, most athletes will experience a full recovery within three to four weeks if allowed to rest.
Stress Fractures vs. Muscle Tears
There are three main parts to your shins:
Lower leg – includes fibula
Upper shin – tibia
Knee area – femur
A stress fracture involves damage to one or more of these areas. They tend to appear first in the lower part of the shin because there is less room for movement here than in the upper part. A stress fracture may also develop in the knee area, but only if it has been injured previously.
Muscle tears happen in the upper portion of your shins and typically affect the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. These muscles run along the bottom of the foot and calf, respectively. As with stress fractures, tears tend to occur in the lower part of the shin. Unlike stress fractures, which are generally painful right away, muscular tears take some time before becoming painful.
Treatment depends upon the severity of the condition. Some people simply need ice packs while others require surgery. You should consult your doctor about your specific situation. However, most cases get better in just a few days.
How long does it take for shin splints to heal?
Most people who suffer shin splints can return to normal activity within a week or two. The key is to avoid aggravating your problem through improper technique or overuse. Here are some tips for healing quickly:
Take a break from your workout routine
Get plenty of sleep
Drink lots of water
Eat foods high in protein like chicken breast, fish and beans
Wear comfortable shoes
Use ice packs
If you’ve suffered a stress fracture, icing won’t help. Instead, stay off your feet completely until the pain subsides. Ice shouldn’t be used at all. If you continue to use your hurt limb, you could end up damaging the bone even further. And don’t try to walk on it — doing so could increase pain. Let someone else carry your load until you feel strong enough to resume walking.
You’ll want to wear supportive footwear such as cross-trainers or stability balls. Don’t try to run on uneven surfaces unless absolutely necessary. Even then, make sure that the ground isn’t slippery.
Keep up hydration, especially if you sweat easily. Avoid caffeinated drinks, alcohol and tobacco. All of these substances dehydrate the body.
As mentioned earlier, protein helps repair damaged tissue. Make sure you eat plenty of lean proteins and complex carbohydrates like whole grains and fruits. Lean meats like turkey and skinless chicken breasts are good choices. Fish, eggs and nuts provide other essential nutrients.
Resting properly is important. Although you might not notice it at first, shin splints can spread into larger problems. Therefore, you should always seek medical attention if you think you have a serious problem.
The following symptoms mean you need immediate attention:
Pain that spreads beyond the shinbone
Sharp pains accompanied by swelling
Sudden inability to walk
For more information on treating shin splints and preventing sports injuries, see the next page.
Healing Shins FAQ”
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