As a physical therapist, one of the most common things I see are injuries that occurred months ago or pain that started weeks ago, but was ignored and brushed aside until it started limiting every day activities. Shin splints are one of those injuries that if a few things were done at home, the severity could have been lessened or they could have been eliminated all together.
Shin splints or pain in the front of the leg comes on in runners, cyclists, soccer players; anyone who participates in recreational activities can be subject to shin splints. Shin splints are known as medial tibial stress syndrome or MTSS. It is often described as pain in the front of the shin. As it progresses the pain will get more intense making activities such as running and even walking painful and unbearable. There are a few things that you can do when you start to feel the pain that will help or eliminate it.
- Ice— People underestimate the importance of ice. When you feel that pain in your shins, the first thing to do is to put ice on it. Usually 10-15 minutes a day.
- Kinesio taping—When I go to races I see people mummified in this stuff. The nice thing about kinesio taping is that if you apply it wrong you cannot hurt yourself. However, a couple carefully placed pieces of tape can do wonders. You do not need to cover yourself in this. And it does not matter what brand you prefer. Kinesio tape is meant to be worn all day, you can shower with it, play sports with it, and it should not limit your activity in any way. Placing two strips as shown in the video can also help reduce the pain of shin splints.
- Stretching and foam rolling—Making sure that you stretch your calf after running or that you foam roll the front of your shins will also help eliminate the pain. Foam rolling the side of the leg and the calves will also help with pain affecting the front of the shins.
- Strengthening—If you are starting to develop pain in your shins this is indicative of a muscle imbalance through your hips and core. Getting on a good strength program that focuses on your abdominals and your hips will help eliminate the pressure on that area.
- Changing your footwear—Making sure that you have correctly fitting sneakers will help reduce the stress placed on the shins.
Shin splints are usually indicative of other problems going on such as weakness and trigger points in the other muscles and should be looked at by a health care practitioner. Make sure you consult your health care professional to make sure that you have made an appropriate diagnosis. However, performing these few simple steps at home can make or break the difference between running and not running.