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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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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Mark has always believed exceptional footwear can change lives. He's been in the footwear industry for over 30 years, working with podiatrists, pedorthists, foot care experts, and footwear makers. Mark started Chaco sandals in 1989 and developed a game-changing sport sandal that delivered comfort and durability. After Chaco sold in 2009, Mark ultimately started Tread Labs to continue transforming people's footwear so they can walk better, feel better, live better.
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