Have you ever started a running routine just to be held up by constant pain along the shin bones?
The pain extends to both before and after running and what at first may feel like a nuisance, can grow to make running more and more unbearable. It can feel like a bit of betrayal from the body toward running and activity itself.
If you’re a runner plagued by shin splints, you’re far from the first. This widespread running injury has held up runners everywhere. Chances are if you’re a runner, you’ve had some sort of shin splints at some time. The good news is that this common injury is totally treatable with conservative care and can even be largely avoided if you take the right precautions.
Shin Splint High-Risk Factors
Just what are shin splints and what causes them? They are a repetitive stress injury occurring from the overuse and abuse of the connective tissue between your muscles and the shin bone. It’s not hard to understand why runners who get excited about a new running routine may overdo it a bit and add on additional miles that their body isn’t quite ready for yet. Keep in mind, if shin splints are pushed through for too long without rest and treatment, the repetitive stress that it puts on the shin bone can actually produce a fracture. It goes without saying that it’s better to catch shin splints early before they reach this later stage.
We should add, though shin splints are extremely common amongst runners, they are not the only population plagued by this pain. Shin splints can also occur in other exercise programs where the intensity and frequency are drastically increased, as well as those with more flat feet or high arches.
Treatment And Exercises To Help Shin Splints
One of the critical components of treatment for shin splints is rest. (Resist the eye roll!) Though this word is dreaded by many runners and fitness enthusiasts alike, it is imperative to allow your body to heal.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily have to mean complete rest for all cases, but because the nature of this injury is repetitive stress, backing off of the activity that is causing the increased pressure is essential to making forward gains. Your “rest” can still be active if you substitute other lower weight-bearing exercises, such as swimming or biking.
Many also experience relief by ice massaging along the shin bone for 10-15 minutes at a time. Wearing shoes or orthotic inserts with better arch support can also help, as well as keeping the calves stretched and taking an over the counter pain reliever. The following simple exercises can also be worked into your routine to help move the healing process along.
Toe Curls With Towel
Spread a hand towel on the ground and sit above it. Grab the towel with your toes and gradually pull it toward you.
Find a curb or edge of a stair and slowly drop your heel down. Bring it back up to raise yourself to your toes before dropping it slowly again.
Point And Flex
Sitting in a horizontal position, gradually point your toe, and hold the ending position in flex for 5-10 seconds. Repeat.
How To Prevent Shin Splints
The number one rule to remember with shin splints: too much of a good thing can get you in trouble. When you’re increasing your mileage or intensity of an exercise program, it’s best to do it gradually and over time. Keep your shoes in a healthy range too. Once your workout shoes reach 350 – 500 miles, it’s time for a new pair. This guideline applies to any exercise routines, across sports.
How Chiropractic Can Help Shin Splints
Gentle, chiropractic adjustments of the extremities can help to alleviate pressure through joints and allow your body to function better. This is imperative while you are in the healing process! Plus, your chiropractor can help you figure out the best at-home exercises to help keep your healing on track outside of the office.
By scheduling regular chiropractic care, you can help to keep your body feeling and functioning well throughout a normal training schedule. During the initial evaluation, we will go over your health history in detail and construct a plan that you are completely comfortable with before moving forward.