The term “shin splints” refers to pain along or just behind the shinbone (tibia) — the large bone in the front of your lower leg. Medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints occur during physical activity and result from too much force being placed on your shinbone and connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone. Shin splints are common in runners and in those who participate in activities with sudden stops and starts, such as basketball, soccer or tennis.
The risk of shin splints is no reason to give up your morning jog or afternoon aerobics class. Most cases of shin splints can be treated with rest, ice and other self-care measures. Wearing proper footwear and modifying your exercise routine can help prevent shin splints from recurring.
Symptoms Of Shin Splints:
- Pain over the inside lower half of the leg.
- Pain at the start of exercise which often eases as the session continues
- Pain often returns after activity and may be at its worse the next morning.
- Sometimes some swelling.
- Lumps and bumps may be felt when feeling the inside of the shin bone.
- Pain when the toes or foot are bent downwards.
- A redness over the inside of the shin (not always present).
Treatment Of Shin Splints:
Rest is the best treatment for shin splints. For immediate relief use the R.I.C.E. treatment method for controlling pain and inflammation. Returning to activity must be done gradually with non-weight bearing activity (cycling, swimming) to your workouts until pain-free.
- Strengthening and stretching exercises are helpful. The ankle injury rehab program can also be used for shin splint rehab.
- Tape your shins to reduce stress
- Wear proper footwear
- Replace shoes as needed.
Returning to activity must be done gradually or you risk re-injury. Change your routine and cut your exercise time and intensity so that you have no discomfort before, during or after exercise.
Prevention Of Shin Splints:
Shin splints may be prevented with some common sense measures:
-Replace or repair exercise shoes that are worn down to the heels. Switch to well-fitting shoes with plenty of impact-absorbing material in the forefoot and heel area. Remember that your running shoes may lose much of their shock absorbency after as few as 500 miles.
-Warm up before running by first walking, then gradually increasing your speed to a jog.
-When you raise your heart rate and lightly perspire, stop and stretch your calf muscles with a wall stretch. One way to stretch out tight calf muscles and Achilles tendons after warming up is to walk slowly on your heels for 100-200 yards.
-Whenever you go for a run or walk, do it on dirt, grass, cinder or a rubberized track to minimize shin trauma. In an aerobics class, make sure the floor is wooden and slightly raised off of the ground so it will “give” as you exercise. This will reduce impact forces.
If you have any questions or concerns about shin splints, its always a good idea to discuss various treatment options directly with your physician.
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