What Causes Shin Splints?

What causes shin splints? How do you treat shin splints? Will Zensah compression leg sleeves or compression socks help with my shins splints? At Zensah, we receive numerous calls and emails from customers asking those very questions. Below we hope to shed some light on the issue of shin splints. Of course, we always recommend working with your doctor or licensed medical professional to address any pain or system, as there may be underlying causes.

He's smiling because he knows the secret to not getting shin splints. He's got his Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves on!

He’s smiling because he knows the secret to not getting shin splints. He’s got his Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves on!

What are shin splints?

Shin splints are a common injury found in runners and all athletes. Shin splints are described as a lower leg pain between the ankle and knee and there are several different reasons as to what causes them. The pain is located from the outer to mid region of the leg near the shinbone, feeling dull at first, subsiding, and reappearing near the end of the workout. Shin splints are typically the most painful after a workout or in the days following.

The most common cause on shin splints is a change in intensity or increase in distance of a workout schedule. Muscles are forced to work harder, which can lead to inflammation of the lower leg muscles and even those that are used in lifting the foot. Weak ankle muscles or existing problems in the Achilles tendons are also related to the development of shin splints.

A change in terrain or surface can also influence whether or not runners experience shin splints. If accustomed to gravel or asphalt, switching to hard concrete can increase impact levels and cause these injuries. If planning to change or alternate surfaces, runners should also adjust the duration and frequency of their runs. Level and soft terrain is ultimately the best choice for athletes prone to shin splints, reducing impact to the legs and feet.

It is not uncommon to hear that overtraining can also cause shin splints. Without proper rest in between workouts, runners and other athletes are more prone to the development of shin splints or other problems. Allowing one day of rest or integrating low impact activities into a workout routine gives the body time to repair and restore and muscles can reenergize themselves. Remember that adding frequency and duration and increasing intensity levels should be done slowly to prevent overtraining.

How to Treat Shin Splints

 Shin splints can be treated with a great deal of rest. Though for most athletes, this is either not possible or not good news. Rest does not always entail staying off of your feet altogether, but rather practicing a “relative rest” approach. This could mean changing a workout schedule to include cross training or lower impact activities, such as cycling, swimming, or using the elliptical. Athletes do not have to sacrifice their practice or training routines, but rather they must be mindful in remembering to give their bodies a break every now and then.

How to Prevent Shin Splints

 While we’ve already discussed how to treat shin splints, how do we prevent them before they become a serious problem?

Stretching and practicing correct biomechanics are two basic ways to prevent the development of shin splints. Calf strengthening and calf stretches are especially important to athletes who are prone to shin splints. Tight calves pull on the tibia, which then causes pain in the shin. Remember, if you want to prevent having tight calves – stretch, stretch, stretch!

Alternating shoes and paying special attention to worn out shoes is the best way to avoid critical impact levels. Shoes are constructed to absorb some of the impact from running and other exercises, so worn out shoes transfer this impact to the athlete’s feet and legs. The rule of thumb is that running shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles.

Leg Sleeves for Shin Splints

A lot of athletes these days wear bandages or calf leg sleeves to reduce or prevent shin discomfort. Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves are designed to provide additional calf and shin support, and ultimately shin splint relief. Zensah leg sleeves feature advanced micro-ribbing to stabilize the shin muscles and effectively reduce muscle oscillations during high-impact activity. Reduced muscles vibrations make muscles more efficient so runners and other athletes can workout harder and longer to achieve their fitness goals. The sleeves are a great alternative to traditional tapping methods.

What tricks have you learned to treat or help prevent shin splints?  Share below!