Fast facts on shin splints
Here are some quick facts on shin splints:
- They are pains that affect the lower front part of the leg, and are common during or after a sporting activity.
- The diagnosis generally involves an X-ray as a means to rule out other possible issues.
- To stop the pain, the best thing you can do is stop whatever activity caused it to occur.
- To prevent shin splints, use proper footwear.
- Those who aren’t physically active and change to a more active lifestyle are more at risk, as well as smokers.
While shin splints can quite painful and disruptive, they aren’t very serious and can be remedied with some simple at-home treatments. The medical term for the condition is medial tibial stress syndrome.
You can identify it by pain in your lower leg, and it can affect the front or sides of your legs. You will often experience shin splints at the beginning of a workout, and while they can get better as you continue to work out, but as you rest it may flare up again.
It is more likely for those who play high impact sports to experience shin splints, but even leisurely walkers can experience them. Shin splints occur in 10.7 percent of injuries in male runners, and 16.8 percent of female runners. Additionally, those with flat feet are more prone to shin splints.
While you may be tempted to power through the pain, over exerting yourself if you are suffering from a shin splint can actually make the symptoms and damage worse. If possible, we suggest taking a 2-week vacation from heavier activities.
While they are quite common, it is still unknown exactly why they occur; however, we have well documented cases of the risk factors involved. These include but are not limited to: muscle weakness, lack of flexibility, improper training techniques, and running on uneven surfaces. The best preventative measures you can take are to wear proper fitted footwear, and to always stretch your muscles before and after a workout.
How Are Shin Splints Treated?
They often heal on their own, but should you wish to see a doctor they will perform a physical exam to determine the extent of the injury. If you want to expedite the healing process you can do the following:
- Rest your body.
- Ice your shin: This can help ease the pain and swelling, and you should aim to fo it for about 20-30 minutes about 4 times a day for a few days.
- Use insoles or orthotics for your shoes. Shoe inserts can help support your arches when you are standing, and can be custom ordered for your exact measurements or bought right off the shelf
Take anti-inflammatory painkillers, if needed. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin can help lessen the pain and swelling.