What Are Shin Splints?
Shin splints are the result of severe stress being placed on the tibia. This stress leads to inflammation of the surrounding muscle tissues; thus, leading to severely debilitating pain. At times, the pain can be so severe that it may even cause difficulties simply taking a step forward.
What Causes Shin Splints?
Shin splints can be caused by various factors; however, one commonality in each of these factors is heightened stress being placed upon the tibia as well as the rest of the body.
- Gait – if you have the wrong gait, then it is likely that your weight is not that well distributed. This poor weight distribution can place enormous stress on your tibia. Eventually, this will lead to the development of a shin splint. To avoid shin splints, it is important to adopt a proper gait when walking.
- Running – If you are new to professional running, then the temptation to speed up suddenly and set new records can be strong. However, you need to increase your pace gradually and not overdo it. A sudden increase of pace can place extreme stress on your tibia, which nearly always results in the development of shin splints. Therefore, it is recommended to seek advice from a professional trainer on how to avoid shin splints while running.
- Dancing – More often than not, both amateur dancers and professional dancers alike tend to suffer from shin splints. This is mainly due to poor pose, gait, and balance. Therefore, it is important to be careful when dancing and not overwhelm your body physically. Take it slow and pick up the pace gradually to decrease your risk of shin splints. Even a sudden spill on the dance floor can place stress on the tibia. Seek immediate medical attention if you begin experiencing sharp pains in your leg. The sooner you seek medical attention for shin splints, the better your chances are for a quick recovery.
- Contact sports – Those participating in contact sports often become injured when playing out in the field. One of the most common injuries these athletes develop is shin splints. This is mainly due to the excess weight that is placed on them during a tackle. This excess weight often leads to the tibia becoming overly stressed; thus, leading to the development of shin splints. This is more commonly seen in rugby and soccer than other sports. Therefore, as part of their training, most rugby and soccer players undergo exhaustive training to develop their lower body strength so that their tibia, as well as the rest of their body, can withstand the stress of any tackle.
- Workout sessions – If you have recently started working out to stay fit, it is important that you not overdo things. It is essential that you pace yourself and not cram too much into your workout sessions. Often, attempting too much at once in the gym can cause your tibia to become stressed and develop shin splints. It is recommended that you seek advice from a professional trainer before attempting any strenuous workout routine.
Treatment for Shin Splints
Upon diagnosing your condition accurately, your doctor will prescribe an active course of treatment that usually consists of you keeping off your feet until you are completely recovered. They will also likely prescribe a course of antibiotics to help alleviate the sharp pain and inflammation around the tibia as well. During your visit to the doctor, ensure that you inform them of your medical history and any drugs you may be allergic to, especially if your allergies are centered around certain antibiotics.
If you begin displaying the symptoms of an allergic reaction after ingesting the prescribed medication for your shin splint, contact your doctor right away. In such cases, the doctor will prescribe an alternate course of treatment that replaces the previously prescribed medication.
In addition to prescribing medication, your doctor will also advise that you stay off your feet and get plenty of rest until fully recovered. The more weight that you place on the effected foot, the worse the inflammation and pain will become. It is vital that you avoid any strenuous physical activity until your doctor gives you the all clear.
Alternate Treatment for Shin Splints
Kinesiology tape is an alternative treatment for shin splints. The tape helps to improve the affected anterior tibialis muscle. Kinesiology tape increases the neuromuscular signals sent to your brain regarding the anterior tibialis muscle; thus, helping the brain receive better feedback on its position and length.
Visit your physical therapist or doctor to check if it is safe for you to use a kinesiology tape. Anterior tibialis bridging is the name of the technique that is used for kinesiology taping. It is a very simple technique that you yourself can do while at home.
Applying Kinesiology Tape
To use the anterior tibialis bridging technique, the following steps should be followed:
- Firstly, cut an “I” shaped strip from the kinesiology tape. The length of the strip should be three inches less than the length of your shin.
- Cut about two inches of the paper backing on one end of the “I” strip.
- Locate the top part of the anterior tibialis muscle. You can feel this muscle moving when you dorsiflex your ankle upwards towards your knee. The upper part of the anterior tibialis muscle is about two inches below the lateral aspect of your knee. Once you locate the upper part of the anterior tibialis muscle, apply one end of the tape.
- Keeping your ankle flexed, apply the other end of the tape over your big toe. However, do not apply the middle section of the tape over your leg. Now, you will have created a tape bridge over your shin.
- Point your foot and ankle towards the floor and starting from the end of the tape, press and move it down to the shin. Rub the tape to activate the adhesive.
You can keep this tape on for about 2 to 5 days. If you develop itchiness or redness around the tape, remove it immediately as you may be allergic to it.
What Is the Function of Kinesiology Tape?
The anterior tibialis bridging technique is used for those who suffer from a poor anterior tibialis muscle. If your muscles are weak, your physical therapist will likely suggest the use of kinesiology tape as a treatment. The kinesiology tape helps the muscular contraction of the anterior tibialis muscle. This tape also improves the blood flow to the anterior tibialis muscle by lifting up the skin and fascia over the muscle. The increased blood flow will help reduce the inflammation quickly. Kinesiology tape not only reduces the pressure and stress over the anterior tibialis muscle, it also helps to relax the muscles over your shin bone.
Kinesiology tapes can also be used in other conditions apart from shin splints. Some of these conditions are posterior tibialis tendinopathy, Achilles tendinopathy, and plantar fasciitis.
If you can use kinesiology taping in conjunction with adequate rest, it will hasten the healing process and reduce the recovery time. Ice packs and NSAIDs are also given to reduce the pain. If shin splints are left untreated, it can lead to stress fractures that will only worsen the condition. Therefore, it is important to consult your doctor as soon as you begin to experience the symptoms of shin splints. The sooner you receive treatment for this condition, the sooner you can be back on your feet.