How to Cure Shin Splints for Soccer Players

Are you tired of having shin pain after playing a round of soccer? Being a footballer is not easy; your sport asks you to be on your feet all the time. While you practice running, handling, kicking, and dribbling drills for hours on grass, you’re prone to bruises during a soccer match. This often results in shin splints which is an unavoidable soccer-related injury.

Let’s discuss in detail how to cure shin splints caused during soccer play.

What Do You Mean By Shin Splints?

You’re most likely to get diagnosed with shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome if you’re having pain along the shin bone (tibia). Pain mostly occurs in the tibialis muscles that radiate down to your shin. As a soccer player, you’re prone to this syndrome due to your intensified training routine.

Moreover, having increased activity puts higher stress on your leg muscles and tendons. The latter develop micro-tears in the tibialis muscle and surrounding bone tissues, triggering pain while playing soccer.

Thereby, to heal shin splints, you’ve to take self-care measures. But before going into cure, let’s take a quick look at the symptoms of shin splints.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Shin Splints?

Some of the signs and symptoms of shin splints in soccer players are:

  • Feeling pain and tenderness over the site of shin muscle attachment, mostly over the front edge of the shin.
  • Pain intensifies during, before, or after soccer games or practice sessions.
  • Soreness in limbs after walking on the heel during drills.
  • Discoloration and swelling in the shin can rarely occur.

If you’re experiencing any of these above-mentioned signs of shin splints, get in touch with your healthcare provider to rule out your condition.

Why Do Shin Splints Occur In Soccer Players?

Shin splints can occur in soccer players due to multiple causes. Some of them are:

  • Frequent changes in your training regime
  • Overuse of limb muscles without taking time off to recover
  • A rise increase in the duration or intensity of your exercise plan
  • Vigorous training for long hours
  • Inappropriate soccer cleats and turf shoes that don’t provide support to your feet
  • Having flat feet that result in the collapse of the foot’s normal arches during walking
  • Overpronation of the foot that decreases your arch while running
  • Faulty shape and structure of your lower limbs
  • Doing soccer drills on uneven or rough surfaces

How To Diagnose Shin Splints In Soccer Players?

Likewise other overuse injuries, it’s crucial to have the confirmed diagnosis of your shin splints before the pain starts disturbing your gameplay.

Firstly, a sports medicine practitioner will ask you for a brief history of how this injury has happened. It’s followed by the physical examination of the injury’s site and a biomechanical assessment of your lower’s limb to identify any anatomical abnormalities if present.

Although depending on your injury’s condition, your healthcare provider might ask you to get X-Rays and bone scans to role out the possibility of fractures.

However, to manage shin splints, your physician is most likely to prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to stop the course of the disease, whereas your physical therapist is going to apply electrical modalities to subside inflammation. This will revert your shin to resume its normal function.

How to cure Shin Splints?

Shin splints are overused sports-related injury that heals on their own. Yet you can apply a few methods to cure shin splints at home.

  • APPLY RICE PROTOCOL

You can use the RICE method to tame the symptoms of shin splints from playing soccer. The steps of the RICE protocol are given below:

  • Rest

Taking a rest is the best way to counter the symptoms of an overuse injury. That’s why you must take your time off from intensified training for at least 24 to 48 hours. It includes taking a break from kicking, running, handling, and dribbling drills.

Although you don’t have to refrain from all sorts of physical activities, performing low-impact exercises, including walking, cycling, and swimming, helps you to recover soon.

  • Ice

Apply ice on the affected area of your shin for a minimum of 20 mins after every 4 hours. Icing leads to the narrowing of the blood vessels, which reduces the swelling and pain related to your injury.

  • Compress

You can compress your shin splints by using a medical bandage. Wrap it around your affected area on the shin. Make sure your dressing is not wrapped too tightly over your injury. It can reduce blood circulation, which can bring further harm to your shin splints.

  • Elevate

Keep your shin elevated at or above your heart level. It will aid in reducing signs of inflammation and release fluids (edema) from your affected area.

  • OPT FOR INSOLES

Soccer players with high arches or flat feet are likelier to suffer from shin splints. Thereby, you should opt for custom-made shoe insoles or orthotics that maintain your arches during strenuous physical activity.

  • WEAR YOUR SOCCER GEAR

Playing with worn-out soccer cleats can cause damage to your hips, knees, legs, and feet. Do you know that training shoes last up to 500 miles? So, your shoes are mostly tattered quickly if you’re spending in intensive drills and gameplay.

You must pick soccer cleats that offer you comfort while playing football. You can add shin splint taping, arch supports, and cushioned inserts to get additional support from your gear.

The correct gear and proper body fitness and mechanics can help you stay away from shin splints. 

  • SAY NO TO OVERWORKING

Being a soccer player, you should understand your body’s limitations. It’s key to stop putting loads on your bones and muscles when you don’t feel perfectly fit. In addition, shin splints tell you to go easy about your training regime. As they mostly appear when you’re overworking yourself before a game or while doing drills.

Therefore, once you’ve started feeling pain or fatigue, fulfil your body’s demands and take a rest.

  • PERFORM MUSCLE STRETCHES

If you are getting shin splints frequently, having tight leg muscles can be the reason. Perform stretching exercises before your warm-up sessions to cure shin splints. Even stretches also relax muscles after long hours of practice.

Leg stretches, such as walking on heels or toes, are beneficial for treating soccer-related injuries, including shin splints.

  • STRENGTHEN YOUR LEG MUSCLES

You are more likely to have shin splints during soccer play if you have weak lower leg muscles. The ideal way to manage your weakened muscles is by strengthening them. Muscles that need special attention include gastrocnemius and soleus, which are present at the back of your leg. Also, plan a workout for the tibialis anterior that is present on the front side of your leg.

Moreover, these muscles cover your shin entirely. That’s why they are crucial for your knee and ankle stabilisation. Also, these muscles help you to move your foot up and down and assist ground clearance while playing soccer.

  • TAKE PAIN MEDICATIONS

You can take over-the-counter pain medications such as aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling. Although, these drugs tend to have side effects, including stomach ulcers and bleeding, if taken continuously without any medical advice. Thereby, you must use them once after consulting your doctor.

If your shin pain is not going away after weeks of applying these treatment strategies, you must consult a healthcare provider to assess your condition properly. Your doctor might refer you to a rehabilitation center to treat your shin splint once and for all.

What is the Rehabilitation for Shin Splints?

Both rest and painkiller medications don’t treat your shin splint single-handedly. Thereby, you are asked to visit a rehabilitation center to promote the healing of your overused injury. Your physical therapist will assess your injury thoroughly and make a concise treatment plan, including site-specific strengthening and conditioning exercises to cure your spin splints.

The main goal of rehabilitation is to send you back to the soccer field. It is fulfilled by incorporating an athlete’s recovery program, which consists of soccer-specific speed, agility, and skill drills. Additionally, your therapist will focus on calf training by stimulating ankle movements, such as plantar and dorsiflexion.

Also, you will be evaluated for tissue overload before resuming your activity as a soccer player to prevent any injury in the future. Some effective rehabilitation techniques for shin splints consist of the following:

  • Improvising your running and kicking technique
  • Assessing your soccer training errors such as intensity, frequency, and duration of exercise regimes
  • Evaluating the surfaces on which your train and play soccer
  • Taping your muscles to reduce shin pain

What Exercises Must I Do To Cure Shin Splints?

It’s recommended practice to stay away from exercises for 2-4 weeks. If you have taken a break from soccer for a while, strength training is the only way out to boost your athleticism. Not only it improves your performance as a soccer player, but it will you make you physically strong. The latter lowers your chances of getting frequent injuries.

Once you have structured a strength training program that suits your body well, add the following exercises to it. These will strengthen your lower leg muscles and prevent shin splints while playing soccer.

  • Tibialis raise – Stand on your heels while your back must be supported by the wall behind.
  • Seated calf raise – Move your ankle down and put force on your toes while sitting.
  • Standing calf raise – Stand on your toes while maintaining your body balance.

The Bottom Line

Getting shin splints is quite common for a soccer player. But fortunately, the recovery rates after shin splints are also very high. Therefore, implementing the previously discussed methods can help you cure your shin splints; you must implement all the methods discussed above to cure your shin splints to get back to the soccer field.

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