Cyclists love the thrill of a long ride. Uphill, downhill, flat road, and off-road rides test and push the athletes’ cardio and legs to the limit. But cycling, like all sports, comes with potential injuries. A common ailment that athletes in high-impact sports get are shin splints.
A result of stress on your tibia or shinbone, this throbbing or aching on the front side of your legs is a condition also known as “medial tibial stress syndrome”.
In this article, we’ll be answering the question: can cycling cause shin splints?
The Impact that Causes Shin Splints
The stress caused over time or all at once via leg force impact is what causes shin splints to occur. It’s a good thing that for the average bike rider, whether casual or competitive, cycling is usually a relatively low-impact sport. So it’s safe to say that cycling is quite unlikely to cause shin splints.
But avid bikers must still take precaution. As one of the most essential body parts of the sport, legs still gets stress from continuous, rigorous use. Thrill seekers might love a lot of uphill rides but doing this a little too often can contribute to shin stress, especially for beginner riders.
The Value of Rest
If you want to hit the road more often, you have to devote periods of recovery every now and then. Lack of rest might still cause some level of aches and pains that push the shinbones sometimes beyond the threshold. Sure, long rides are heaven for the cardio, shedding pounds, or just chilling along the road. But you have to listen to your body when it wants to take a break.
Extreme long riders who are either beginners or just don’t give their legs time to take a breather run the risk of building up stress over time that might cause shin splints. The thrill of the long road is highly enticing, but your body will thank you more when you give it time to recover from the physical strain every now and then.
What to Do if You Get Shin Splints
In the event you somehow do get shin splints, it will usually just subside over the course of a week with rest. But if it persists, you may get a physical exam with your doctor. An X-ray or bone scan may be necessary if the pain is unbearable. But usually, a quick check-up will be enough for lesser pains.
If swelling is visible on your shin, you can also place ice or an icepack to ease the condition. It can help to ice it for 20-30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for 2 to 3 days, or until the pain is gone.
Custom-made or premade shoe inserts can also be a big help support your foot arches whenever you pedal or stand.