If you pound the pavement regularly, it's likely you've experienced shin splints at some point. It's a pain you don't forget. Icing them can help, but even better than treatment is prevention.
The Basics ---
- As common as they are painful, shin splints are a result of the muscles and tendons surrounding your tibia becoming inflamed due to repetitive stress.
- You can treat the tenderness or aching, burning pain along your inner shinbone by putting your feet up and icing your shin for 15 minutes every hour. You'll also need to take it easy and stop running or walking on hard surfaces until your shin splints heal.
- You can prevent shin splints by stretching, avoiding repetitive pounding of your feet on hard surfaces, replacing your footwear frequently and using insoles.
- We recommend the firm, structured support of Tread Labs Pace Insoles to help heal your shin splints by reducing stress on your shins.
What You Need To Know ---
Shin splints can afflict anyone who pounds the pavement on a regular basis. For some people, even more frustrating than the pain of shin splints is being sidelined until they heal. So, before you deal with another case of shin splints, do what you can to prevent them from happening again.
What Are Shin Splints?
Shin splints, clinically know as tibial stress syndrome, occur when the muscles and tendons surrounding the tibia (the long bone between knee and heel) become inflamed due to repetitive stress.
This painful condition is common in athletes, runners, dancers, and anyone who spends a lot of time walking or running on hard surfaces. Shin splints can also occur when athletes alter their work-out regime or change the type of surface they run on.
Irregular foot structure or biomechanics may also contribute to the development of shin splints.
What Do Shin Splints Feel Like?
The most common symptom of shin splints is tenderness or an aching, burning pain along the inner shinbone. If left untreated, the pain increases throughout the lower leg as nearby muscles and tendons attempt to compensate for weakness in the shinbone area.
The swelling and pain in the lower leg can lead to supination (outward rolling of foot during stride) or a stress fracture. In severe cases, shin splints may become debilitating enough to require a cast or lengthy bedrest.
How Do Shin Splints Happen?
Certain people are more likely to get shin splints because of the type of activities they do. You could be prone to developing shin splints if you:
- Are a runner
- Have a job that frequently requires you to march, walk, or stand on hard surfaces
- Are a dancer
- Train on uneven surfaces or hills
- Don’t stretch or warmup prior to exercising on hard surfaces
- Have extra high arches or flat feet and spend a lot of time walking or running with proper arch support
Are Shin Splints Stress Fractures?
The pain of shin splints can be intense, which may make you wonder if shin splits are stress fractures. Luckily they are not. However, they are caused by the same issue - repetitive use. Stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bone, while shin splints are caused by inflamed muscles, tendons and tissue.
Sports medicine specialist Dr. Laura Goldberg explains, "One of the most common causes (or shin splints and stress fractures) is a sudden increase in weight-bearing exercise. A runner may be progressing with running, but has added other weight-bearing activities such as plyometrics and is not allowing enough recovery time."
You'll be able to tell if you have a stress fracture rather than shin splints because the pain will get worse as you continue running and it will be in a smaller location. Shin splint pain tens to occur over a broad area and lessens after you warm up, according to Dr. Goldberg.
To get a proper diagnosis and course of treatment, you'll want to see your doctor.
Will Shin Splints Go Away?
Shin splints will go away, but there's a few things you'll need to do to make that happen. First, stop running or walking on hard surfaces until your shin splints have healed. Switch to low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling.
Put your feet up and ice the affected shin for 15 minutes every hour. Ask your doctor about taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory to help with any pain and swelling you're having. And finally, add insoles to your shoes to properly support your arches and cushion your feet.
How To Prevent Shin Splints
Once you've experience the pain of shin splints, you never want to go through it again. Luckily there are steps you can take to prevent them:
- Stretch thoroughly prior to any workout that involves repetitive stress to your lower leg or heel.
- Avoid lengthy jogs or dancing on hard surfaces, such as concrete or asphalt.
- Take breaks when required to be on your feet all day. Put your feet up to help increase blood flow to the muscles, joints, tendons, and bones.
- Use shock-absorbent insoles that protect your shins and heels from high-stress impacts, especially if you have flat feet or extremely high arches.
- Replace running or athletic shoes at least once a year, particularly if you notice uneven wear around the heels.
- Take it easy. No matter your level of training or aspirations, respect your body’s limitations, and anticipate overuse before the pain puts you on pause.
Do Insoles Help With Shin Splints?
Insoles can help prevent injuries, including shin splints, but you have to get the right ones. Not all orthotics for shin splints are created the same. Those cushy drugstore insoles don't offer the structured support you need to avoid shin splints. Invest in a pair of insoles with:
- Proper Fit. Arch support only works if it fits your feet precisely. The best insoles for shin splints will match the contours of your feet, providing firm support across the length of your arch.
- Firm Support. Soft insoles may temporarily soothe aching feet, but if you spend a lot of time dancing or running on hard surfaces, you want shoe inserts that provide firm, flexible support. Cushy insoles just don't have the structural support your arches and heel need to protect you from shin splints.
- Improved Biomechanics. Insoles with deep heel cups help your body's natural cushioning (the fatty pad beneath your heel bone) do its job absorbing shock effectively. A deep heel cup also adds to the stability of your foot, improving your balance.
There's nothing worse than having to sit out the things you love doing because of pain. Doing everything you can to prevent shin splints and other repetitive stress injuries will keep you going for as long as you want, pain-free. And it's as easy as adding the right insoles to your footwear.
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