Shin splints1 is one of the most common injury found in athletes and runners that manifests as nagging pain in the lower compartment of the leg. It is usually due to a result of small stress fractures of the shin. These fractures can occur when there are extremely tight muscles or there is overuse and repetitive stress on the shin bone.
This pain can be controlled by stretching and strengthening exercises of feet, lower legs and hips. Running on hard surface should be avoided along with reduction of frequency of runs and weekly mileage. Warming up exercises should also be done with care preventing any undue stress on the shin.
Does Magnesium Help With Shin Splints?2
Diet plays an important role in strengthening of bones and overall health of the body. Magnesium is known to be the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. It constitutes approximately 60% of the bones and 30% of skeletal and cardiac muscles. It is also found in blood and body fluids and is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions taking place in the body. It is crucial for energy production, muscle function, protein synthesis and metabolism of insulin. It therefore becomes important to maintain adequate magnesium levels in the body. It is also vital for conversion of glycogen to glucose (active or aerobic metabolism) that is body’s main fuel during exercise and without magnesium there would be accumulation of lactic acid in the body. It is because without magnesium there would be anaerobic3 metabolism that will lead to muscle soreness and spasms. A person who has low levels of magnesium in the body usually feels tired and will lack energy. The protein metabolism is also disturbed, which further reduces strength and power as well as recovery of the bones and muscles.
Bone health requires not only calcium but sufficient amounts of magnesium and vitamin D. Without adequate levels of magnesium cellular enzyme activity is inhibited that converts vitamin D into its active form to help in absorption of calcium and building of bones. Calcium and magnesium together are essential for optimal muscle function. A deficiency in magnesium will result in muscle and nerve twitches along with spasms and cramps in the body. People who are into heavy exercise often experience a buildup of lactic acid in the body that leads to shin splints and painful muscles and cramps during and after exercise. Magnesium helps in speedy recovery of muscle soreness and cramps and also reduces fatigue and incidence of injuries. Low levels of magnesium also decrease insulin sensitivity that leads to fat accumulation in the body.
Magnesium deficiency is common in athletes and runners and people who exercise regularly due to consumption of magnesium for metabolism and energy production. It is also lost from the body via sweat during exercise and also in urine.
Management Of Shin Splints With Magnesium
Adequate amounts of magnesium in the body can help prevent shin splints. Normal requirement of magnesium in the body for women is 270 mg for women and 300 mg roughly for men. The daily need is raised if you exercise regularly or you are an athlete.
Food sources of magnesium are unrefined whole grains, wholemeal breads, wholemeal cereals, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds), peas, beans, and lentil seeds. Some fish such as halibut and mackerel are high in magnesium. Hard water is also a good source of magnesium. Bananas are rich in magnesium and daily consumption of more than 7-8 bananas is helpful to replenish depleting sources of magnesium in the body.
Other than a healthy diet adequate rest to the muscles and bones is also essential. Hot baths with Epsom salts are also helpful in getting rid of cramps and soreness of muscles. It also helps in flushing toxins out of the body. The Epsom salt is directly absorbed into the muscles and lactic acid is drawn out of the body that helps prevent shin splints.