Fit and fine: Beware of the shin splints over-enthusiastic beginners!
Muscle and bone tissue in the leg becomes overworked by repetitive activity and cause this condition also know as, Medial Tibial Stress SyndromeUpdated: May 04, 2019, 22:10 IST
Jyoti was a budding dance enthusiast, practising three hours a week. She was invited to participate in a popular dance show on television. Her teacher told her that if she did well on the show, she might have a chance in making dance her career. Jyoti, promptly decided to up her dance practice to several times a week. She also added running to improve her fitness levels and cut down on her weight. After a week of starting her new training regimen, Jyoti’s right shin started to ache. But she pushed through the pain and then it became so bad that she had problems walking. She consulted her doctor, who diagnosed it as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome aka shin splints.
Finding the cause
Shin splints are the classic example of doing too much too soon and usually affects over enthusiastic beginners. The pain in shin splints is towards the inside of the affected shin, hence the name, Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome. Shin splints occur when the muscle and bone tissue or periosteum in the leg become overworked by repetitive activity.
Shin splints often happen after sudden changes in physical activity. These can be changes in frequency, such as increasing the number of days per week or changes in duration and intensity, such as running longer distances or on hills.
Some of the risk factors for shin splints could be:
•Runners, military recruits and dancers are very prone to shin splints.
•Sudden increase in activity – dance, running etc.
•Ill-fitting shoes – worn out shoes which do not provide enough support.
•Flat feet put excessive pressure on the shins.
•Gender – women are more likely to get shin splints.
You can find out if you have shin splints by doing these two tests at home:
1.Using your fingers like a claw, press firmly towards the middle of the shin. Try to grab on to the shin bone. If this is painful, then the test is positive for shin splints.
2.Press your finger tips for five seconds on the inside of the shin. If there is an indentation, after you remove the fingers. Then the test is positive for shin splints as this means that there is a slight swelling in the shin.
The Cure – rest, stretch and strengthen
•Easing up on the running/activity or even stopping for a while is the first step. The overused tissues need to be rested for them to recover. If losing fitness is a concern, then alternate means of cardiovascular exercise – rowing, swimming or elliptical cross trainer can be used.
•Icing is good for reducing pain or any swelling. Apply ice for 10 to 15 minutes several times in the day. Do not apply ice directly on the affected area.
•Stretch the front of the shins – sit on your shins, with your insteps touching the floor. Stretch is like the Vajra asana in yoga.
•After the pain and swelling has settled down, the front of the shin, the anterior tibialis muscle needs to be strengthened. Loop a resistance on your toes, while anchoring the other end under a stationary object. Pull the toes towards your knees also known as dorsiflexion. Do three sets of 20-25 reps, twice a day.
Shin splints can be summed up in a very simple way – ‘too much, too soon’. So the basic idea remains the same – physical activity is very good but learn to hurry slowly.
(A strength and conditioning coach for the last 15 years, Kamal Singh, CSCS, specialises in post rehabilitation training and functional training.)
This is a fortnightly column. The next one will appear on May 19 .
Follow @KamalSinghCSCS on Twitter
From HT Brunch, May 5, 2019
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