Shin splints can be a real pain in the shin.
Shin splints are one of the most common injuries in sports, especially running. They result from inflammation and micro-tearing of the connective tissue in front of the shin bone (anterior tibialis) that causes pain during activity.
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Shin splints are one of the most misdiagnosed injuries because it is often confused with stress fractures and compartment syndrome. The pain for this condition runs along the inner edge of the shin bone, hence the term, “shin splints.”
If you are experiencing shin splints, read on to learn more about it, its common causes, and some kinesiology taping protocols that you can try to help alleviate the discomfort.
What are the causes of shin splints?
Shin splints are known as medial tibial stress syndrome. It is caused by repeated or continuous irritation of the tibia (shinbone), which leads to micro-tearing of the muscles and fascia.
The pain develops on the inner side or front portion of the lower leg. The injury commonly happens when the muscle and the bone in the leg are overused from repetitive activities.
It also occurs if there’s a sudden change in your physical activities. It can be due to changes when it comes to how frequently you exercise, or how long you engage in one.
For runners, for example, it occurs when their training load increases too quickly for their bodies to adapt. When this happens, small tears form within the muscles along the shin bone (tibia). This results in severe shin pain that extends from your shinbone down into your ankle.
Who is prone to shin splints?
This condition commonly affects athletes who engage in sports that require running or jumping. These include basketball players, runners, tennis players, volleyball players, and ballet dancers.
However, some factors that predispose you to shin splints include:
- Flat feet
- Not warming up before exercising
What are the symptoms of shin splints?
The symptoms of shin splints include pain in the lower leg and pain during the activity that causes them.
Treatment for Shin Splints
The treatment for shin splints varies depending upon the cause of the condition. However, kinesiology taping is also an effective method in relieving pain in this area.
Although it doesn't help much in curing or preventing shin splints, it can be used to alleviate the symptoms by reducing discomfort and swelling when worn correctly.
- Rest. Since shin splints are caused by overuse of the muscles, rest is one of the best options to treat shin splints.
- Anti-inflammatory medicine. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen are amongst the most commonly used shin splint treatments.
- Applying ice. Applying ice to shin pain can help reduce swelling and inflammation by reducing blood flow. Ice should be applied for 15-20 minutes per session as frequently as possible, but do not apply ice directly to the skin as this may cause a burn.
It is important to remember that it is often more effective to apply an ice pack through a cloth or towel to protect your skin from the cold of the ice pack.
- Compression. The shin muscles need blood circulation to heal properly after trauma, so a compression bandage helps move blood around injured tissues and prevent the reoccurrence of shin pain.
- Applying kinesiology tape. In the past few years,kinesiology tape has become a popular option to treat shin splints. Kinesiology tape is a specialized strip of stretchy fabric that can be applied to muscles and joints to reduce soreness and help relieve shin discomfort while running or walking.
Studies have shown that wearing kinesiology tape on the shin improves muscle strength during activities such as straight-leg raises and vertical jumps compared to not wearing any shin support.
- Shoes. Wearing supportive shoes with proper arch support may help prevent shin splint pain from ever occurring. In some cases, specially designed orthotic inserts for shin splints can provide additional relief to shin pain.
- Flexibility exercises. One way to prevent shin splint pain is by strengthening the shin muscles with regular stretching, so be sure to stretch your calf, shin, and ankle before running or playing sports.
Stretching the shin muscles regularly will also help reduce muscle tension in shin muscles which helps relieve shin pain.
The best type of flexibility exercise when it comes to shin splints is stretching because this does not put much pressure on the shins when they are already inflamed.
Kinesiology Taping for Shin Splints
Kinesiology taping may help shin splints by bringing stability to the muscles around the shin while improving blood flow and circulation. If you’re thinking of turning to kinesiology tape as a treatment for your shin splints, you can check out the steps below.
But, before applying kinesiology tape, read this article first to learn how to prep your skin to avoid skin irritation and allergies.
- Measure and cut your tape spanning your shin area.
- Anchor the tape below the pain point and apply 0% tension.
- Next, give the rest of the tape 50% tension before applying it to the area of discomfort.
- Then, cut two more short strips. Get one strip and apply the tape with 80% stretch just above the area of discomfort. Make sure to apply 0% tension on the ends.
- Get the second short strip and apply it with 80% tension just below the first strip.
- Rub in the tape to activate the adhesive.
*Note: Before undergoing any treatment, we highly recommend that you consult with a medical professional or a physical therapist.
How do you prevent shin splints?
To prevent shin splints from happening, you must slowly build up your fitness level each week.
If shin splints have already set in, you can help to heal them by being very patient with your training regimen.
Shin splints are a common injury among beginner runners and experienced athletes alike. But, with proper treatment, shin splints will not stop you from running.
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We hope that this blog post has helped you understand what shin splints are, their symptoms, and their treatment.
If you think you may be suffering from them, make an appointment with your doctor to get the specific diagnosis.
Shin splint pain is usually temporary but if it lasts for more than 3 months or worsens over time then there could be something else going on like stress fractures in your tibia (shinbone).
Kinesiology tape can also help relieve some of the pressure off of the affected area during exercise which will promote healing faster!
How do YOU treat shin splints? Let us know in the comments below.