How To Cure Shin Splints Fast
“Shin splint is a term used for injuries of the tibia and fibula bones in the lower leg, also known as the shins. It’s an injury caused by sudden movement where the bone has been fractured. The pain usually starts on one side of the body and radiates down through the lower leg toward toes.
The pain associated with shin splints may be sharp at first but it will dull over time. It can range from mild discomfort to moderate to severe pain depending on how long you have had them. They are typically treated conservatively using rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) protocol which means resting, icing, compressing and elevating.
When you get shin splints they should be taken seriously because they can cause serious complications if ignored. If you don’t listen to your body you risk causing further damage to the injured area. There are some common signs of shin splints that include:
Pain/sensitivity around the outer edge of the tibia and/or fibula bone
Aching muscles, particularly those surrounding the affected area
Inability to bear weight on the foot
Decreased flexibility of the ankle joint
Lack of swelling
If you experience any of these symptoms above then you need to see a doctor immediately. Your doctor might prescribe medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, aspirin, diclofenac potassium, methotrexate, salsalyl acid, cortisone injection and even surgery. Surgery is only recommended when other treatments fail to relieve the pain. However, most people recover from their shin splints within 3-6 months so there isn’t much point in rushing out to see a doctor unless you’re experiencing extreme pain.
Take note that shin splints generally occur after intense physical activity and sports training. Athletes who participate in high impact activities like football, basketball, soccer etc tend to develop shin splints more often than others. This is due to repetitive stress put on the legs while running, jumping, landing, pivoting etc. Other factors that contribute to this type of injury includes poor footwear, muscle imbalance, tight calf muscles, weak core muscles, lack of stretching before exercising, improper form during exercises, incorrect posture, lack of strength, low energy levels and dehydration.
Some people think that shin splints are just a minor injury and therefore ignore it until it gets worse. But this doesn’t help the condition improve. In fact, ignoring shin splints can make the problem worse and result to chronic shin splints. Once your shin splints become chronic you can end up having another breakage in the bone which causes additional scar tissue and inflammation. In addition, ignoring the injury can prolong the healing process.
Here are some tips on how to treat shin splints quickly without putting yourself at risk of getting another fracture.
1. Rest – One way to reduce the severity of the shin splints is to simply give your feet a chance to fully recover. Take off all shoes and socks and allow your feet to breathe. Cover your feet with soft cloths and elevate your legs higher than normal. Apply heat pack or heating pad to decrease inflammation.
2. Ice – Apply ice packs wrapped in towels directly onto your skin for 10 minutes every hour. Repeat this process 4 times per day. After 2 days of applying cold therapy ice packs wrap your calves in elastic bandages or gauze to keep moisture inside the bandages. Avoid going outside to run errands or do yard work until your shin splints are completely healed.
3. Compression Gear – When you go outdoors avoid stepping on debris that may scratch your skin. Use foam sandals instead. Also wear thick wool socks that provide extra cushion between your feet and ground surface. Don’t wear open toe shoes when walking barefoot on pavement surface. Wear closed toe shoes when walking barefoot on grassy surfaces.
4. Elevation – Keep your ankles slightly elevated above heart level to prevent fluid accumulation underneath the skin which reduces swelling and inflammation.
5. Strengthen your ankles – A strong ankle makes a strong leg and vice versa. So strengthen your ankles by doing simple ankle movements called “”calf raises””. Stand up straight and hold onto something firm like a railing or table. Now raise your heels up towards your head while keeping your ankles steady. Do 15 reps each side. For advanced exercisers try standing on tip toe with hands behind your neck. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 5 times.
6. Stretch your calves – Stretching helps to loosen tight muscles and promote blood circulation. Try doing 20 repetitions of stretch move described above. Or you can use a machine called a Swiss ball which allows you to stretch both upper and lower legs simultaneously. Just place your feet on top of the ball and push your hips away until you feel a slight stretch in your knees and thighs. Then lower your hip flexors until your knee bends 90 degrees. Lower your pelvis forward until your thigh aligns with your chest. Hold for 1 minute and repeat twice daily.
7. Drink water – Drinking enough amount of fluids is important especially if you are working out hard. Water is essential to maintain proper hydration levels. Not drinking enough amounts of water can lead to fatigue, dry mouth, headaches, constipation and many other health problems. Aim to drink 8 glasses of water every day. This will help flush toxins out of your system and keep you energized throughout the day.
8. Eat right – Eating foods rich in calcium and protein will build lean muscle mass and repair torn tissues faster. Calcium acts as glue between collagen fibers and keeps them together. Protein contains amino acids which are vital building blocks for healthy cells, muscles, joints, teeth, hair and nails. Include food rich in omega fatty acids in your diet. Omega fatty acids are very effective in reducing inflammation. These fatty acids are found naturally in nuts, seeds, fish oil supplements and leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale. Nuts contain good source of minerals such as copper, zinc, iron, magnesium and selenium. Iron deficiency leads to oxygen deprivation in our bodies which results to tiredness and exhaustion. Seaweeds contain iodine which is necessary for thyroid function. Iodine is also needed to regulate metabolism. Magnesium plays an important role in converting carbohydrates and proteins to glucose and helping us relax. Zinc improves immune system functions.
9. Sleep well – Getting adequate sleep is essential for recovery and recharging of our batteries. Make sure you are sleeping 7 to 9 hours every night. Get plenty of relaxation too. Practice yoga poses that increase lung capacity and deep breathing to calm your nerves and release tension. Meditation is also helpful in calming your mind and relaxing your entire body.
10. Be aware of your posture – Poor posture increases pressure on certain areas of your spine and puts unnecessary strain on your joints. Some postures we commonly adopt include slouching, sitting hunched over desk, leaning forward for extended periods of time, crossing your arms across your chest, holding your stomach and looking down frequently. All these positions can affect the alignment of your spinal column adversely resulting to backaches, shoulder pains, neck aches and sciatica among others. Check your posture once every two hours and correct any imbalances you find.
11. Warm up properly – Before you start working out warm up your muscles thoroughly. Walk briskly for about 5 minutes. Start with light weights and gradually increase the resistance as you progress. Gradually increase the pace and duration of workout. Always warm up thoroughly before engaging in strenuous workouts.
12. Listen to your body – Proper nutrition and sufficient rest is the key to success. Know what works best for your body. Your body knows best how to manage its own needs. Therefore listen to your body. Stop if you feel pain or if you sweat excessively. Never push yourself beyond your limits.
13. Have fun! – Remember to enjoy life. Exercise does not mean you have to be bored stiff all day. Find an alternative way to burn calories like hiking, biking, swimming, dancing, playing tennis, volleyball etc. Go shopping, cook special meals, watch TV shows, read books, play board games, write letters to friends and family, go for walks, garden, clean house, learn new things, visit museums, climb trees, ski, hike, travel, sing karaoke, volunteer, dance, play team sports, spend quality time with kids…the list goes on.
Follow these tips religiously and you’ll notice improvement in no time. And remember that shin splints won’t last forever. It takes patience and time to heal shin splints. Most importantly, always consult your physician if you suspect that you have suffered a fracture. He / she will determine whether there is any need to x-ray your shins to ensure there is no further damage. Good luck!”
If you enjoyed this article and would like to see similar ones.