Although normally striking newer runners, even seasoned ground-pounders can be sidetracked by this painful problem. Let's go over the facts, and some tips to help you prevent or treat your injury.
What are shin splints? There can be many causes, but a simple way to explain it is pain along the shin bone due to inflammation in the area and the muscle pulling forcefully on the bone – OUCH! Shin splints should not be ignored as they can progress into a stress fracture if left untreated.
The first line of treatment is R.I.C.E. therapy — rest, ice, compression and elevation. (Don’t forget, Bauerfeind is the C in R.I.C.E., but more on this later). So first, rest. The major cause of shin splints is ramping up your running distance, frequency or intensity too quickly. At the first sign of shin pain, take some well-deserved time off. If resting simply is not in your nature, switch to biking or swimming for a little while; these activities are not as stressful on the shins.
Aside from R.I.C.E. therapy, there are some other measures you can take to prevent or treat shin splints:
• Maintain a good stretching program, particularly focusing on the calf and shin muscles. Stretching will loosen up and lengthen the muscles, helping to prevent pulling from the bone.
• Begin a strengthening program to keep the entire lower leg strong. Muscle weakness can lead to muscle imbalances, which contributes to shin splints.
• Get new shoes every 350-500 miles, and invest in a quality pair of insoles. Taking care of your shins often starts at your feet.
• Avoid hills and hard surfaces while still in the recovery phase. These surfaces can exacerbate shin splints.
•Switch up your route frequently. If you are a track runner, alternate which direction you run on the track. If you are a trail or street runner, mix up your route or at least the direction of your route. This reduces repetitive strains and spreads the forces out somewhat.
• Gradually increase your workout and have a plan. For instance: don’t increase duration, intensity and frequency all at once. When increasing one variable, start with a 10-15% increase and gradually continue in increments as long as you are still feeling good. At first sign of shin pain, back down a step until you can work out at that level pain-free.
How can Bauerfeind help?
Bauerfeind is the Compression or “C” in R.I.C.E. therapy. Our Sports Compression Socks or Lower Leg Sleeves gives medical-grade compression to the shin muscles to reduce inflammation and damaging muscle vibrations. This in-turn can reduce pain and aid in healing. Once healed you should continue to use Bauerfeind compression products as a preventative measure to reduce the odds of your shin splints returning.
If you tend to over-pronate, have flat arches or high arches (these things up your odds of shin splint problems), you can also try the Bauerfeind Sports Insoles Run and Walk. This will give the arch some much-needed support but still allows the foot to move naturally — stability with agility! Just remember to have a breaking in period for your arch supports. Even though your foot may need support, it takes a while for the foot to get used to it as in some cases it has been years and years of over-pronating and not having support.
If you have more questions about shin splints you can email our physical therapist at: firstname.lastname@example.org