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What Are Shin Splints and Natural Shin Splint Remedies

There are many things that can go medically wrong in the body due to living a sedentary lifestyle, but one exercise-related injury that is common in people of all ages is shin splints. This leg condition is common among people who are moderately and heavily engaged in physical activity, and it can be intense enough to prevent a person from playing sports. Here is some information about shin splints and how you can ease and treat the pain naturally.

Photo credit: Esther Max via Flickr

Causes of Shin Splints

Shin splints result when physical force causes the muscles to swell up and press against the shin bone and the tissues that attach bones and muscles here. The condition is considered to be a cumulative stress disorder because it usually occurs after repeated stress on the shins, rather than just from one traumatic incident. However, in rarer cases, a bone fracture that involves tiny cracks in the bones can cause shin splints as well.

Symptoms of Shin Splints

Many people who experience shin splints describe the pain as dull and aching in the front of the lower leg region. This pain may occur on either or both sides of the shin bone, and it usually gets worse with exercise. You may notice swelling, tenderness, and soreness in the shin area and perhaps numbness in the feet when the pain is flaring up.

Risk Factors for Shin Splints

Although shin splints can occur at any age, people who engage in high-impact sports that require a lot of stopping and starting, such as tennis and basketball, are at the highest risk of developing them. You are more susceptible to shin splints if you wear unsupportive shoes while working out or if you work out on terrain that is especially hard (like concrete), uneven, or slanted. People who have flat feet or who are generally inflexible in the legs are more likely to develop shin splints as well.

Photo credit: Bonnie Ann Cain-Wood via Flickr

Natural Treatments for Shin Splints

After being diagnosed with shin splints, there are many home remedies that you can try to make your legs feel better and to get active again. Physicians typically recommend taking at least a week or two to rest from strenuous physical activity to allow the legs to recover on their own. It also helps to keep the legs elevated, apply ice packs to the sites of pain, and to wear elastic compression bandages on the legs.

It may help to massage the shins with your hands or a foam roller and to stick to an anti-inflammatory diet packed with broccoli, herbal tea, berries, spinach, and fish. Try placing supportive shoe inserts or custom-made orthotics into your shoes to achieve an optimal arch position for your feet.

However, it’s important not to rush back into your favorite sport because different people heal at different rates. With shin splints, this recovery time is often several months long. Fortunately, many people with shin splints can still stay active with lower-impact activities, such as cycling and swimming. As a preventative measure, it’s a good idea to incorporate strength training into your regular workout routine in order to strengthen the hips, legs, and ankles so that they are better prepared for high-impact sports and more resistant to shin splint pain.

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