The other day I was talking to a friend about plantar fasciitis, and how my wife wears plantar fasciitis socks for her condition, and loves how much they help her. He shared that he had the same condition, but then he mentioned that he also got shin splints. And the question came up as to how are they related, and what is a good way to start healing shin splints. I normally talk about plantar fasciitis, but this is a good time to change the focus for the day.
WHAT ARE SHIN SPLINTS?If you are an athlete, you might have had a shin splint as you were practicing or performing in your sport. Shin splints can be described as that pain that is felt along the inner edge of one's shin bone. It is between the knees and the ankles that this pain is concentrated. The most likely people to get shin splints are athletes, or people who participate in moderate to heavy physical activity/exercise. Runners, soccer players, basketball players, tennis players and racquetball players all come to the top of the list of people most affected by this condition.
WHAT CAUSES SHIN SPLINTSAlthough a shin splint may feel like it comes on quite suddenly, actually this is where it is much like plantar fasciitis. Most people develop shin splints from being active in a strenuous physical activity where a cumulative stress is placed on the shins. The pain results from this cumulative excessive force on the tissue attaching to the shin bone and the muscles surrounding your shin bone. Essentially, the cumulative excessive force causes the muscles to form micro tears and then swell, which increases the pressure that is up against the bone. This leads to the pain and inflammation that you feel. Let's look at a few sports for examples. In tennis, the stop and go movement of going back and forth on the court is very demanding on the lower legs, and the pounding and pushing off quickly to go for a tennis ball can really generate a lot of force. Same is true in racketball. In basketball, it is the jumping up and down, as well as, the back and forth movement that are demanded of players that again cause this tremendous stress. And of course runners experience this with the constant pounding on the pavement each step they take. So what might start off as a minor tear of a muscle that goes unnoticed in athletes, can soon develop into an intense pain that shoots up from the ankle to the knee. Shin splints can become so painful that you might have to stop the physical activity and address this cumulative stress disorder.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF SHIN SPLINTSLet me list a few symptoms that people who suffer from shin splints will experience.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT SHIN SPLINTSOne of the first things I would recommend for people with shin splints is rest from the strenuous activity that has produced them. Our bodies need time to heal and for our muscles to repair. If you think you might have a shin splint, of course the best course of action would be to go get it diagnosed by the doctor. They can help you determine the best course of action specifically for you, so you can get back to your activity sooner. But there are definitely things you might try to speed up this healing. For instance, either COMPRESSION SOCKS, OR COMPRESSION SLEEVES are two great things that help bring healing to your shins. They do this by providing compression that brings more oxygen to the muscle and so recovery can happen faster. If you do continue participating in the activity, especially wearing compression sleeves (they are slightly thicker than the socks) during the exercise, could help to minimize more potential damage. If you are use to trying to tape these body parts, I recommend this as a much better substitute. Other things you can do include icing the shins, elevating the legs, and taking some form of ibuprofen. All of these aim to reduce the swelling in the lower legs, and can help with healing. The main thing to remember is to not just go on as if you don't need to recover. Shin splints can be quite painful, and need addressing so that you can get back to your sport. Or as I like to say, stay healthy so you can stay fit! Cheers, Drew
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