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Shin Splints

Shin Splints

Treating shin splints begins with understanding what shin pain is all about. Shin splints is a common name that covers a variety of conditions as it is a symptom of pain regarding the front of the shinbone (tibia). This is the large bone in front of the lower leg. Shin pains can be a result of muscle, bone or the attachment of the muscle to the bone. The bone and soft tissue injury may be separate or overlap. Often when runners experience shin pain, it is now referred to as medial tibial stress syndrome [bold]. Pain in the lower leg could also be due to compartment syndrome or a stress fracture or stress reaction. Knowing the cause is essential in treating shin splints.

Compartment syndrome involves leg pain and includes the nerves and leads to muscle weakness. The pain is present on the outside area of the lower leg. Compartment syndrome occurs when muscles swell within a closed compartment and pressure is created. A stress fracture [bold] is an incomplete crack in the bone. If a specific spot sends shooting pain with the press of a finger, the centralized pain typically represents a fracture as medial shin splints is more generalized. Another difference between shin splints and a fracture is how the area feels in the morning. A stress fracture feels better in the morning as there has been no stress to the area, while shin splints are more painful in the morning as the soft tissue tightens during the night. Getting a bone scan is needed to diagnose a stress fracture and before treating the shin splints if a fracture is likely.

 

Shin Splints Symptoms

Shin splints can affect one or both legs, however one usually hurts more than the other. Most runners have a dominant leg, similar to being right or left handed. Often the dominant leg corresponds to the dominant hand. The pain is felt on the inside of the shin in the medial area. Beginner runners who are new to the stress of running and do not stretch enough are prone to anterior shin splints, which is pain on the outside of the leg. Often this occurs because of an imbalance with the muscles in the front of the leg and the calf muscles. The front muscles are overworked as the calf muscles are typically stronger.

Shin Splints Symptoms

  • Dull and achy pain on the inside of the tibia bone
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Possible swelling
  • Increased pain when the foot pushes against resistance

 

Shin Pain Causes

Most runners get shin splints from doing too much too soon. The causes of shin pain are similar to other injuries. Overuse and increasing training or intensity too drastically can bring added stress the shin area. To determine the cause a careful examination is necessary to find the root problem leading to the pain. Various areas of tenderness and other tests can be used to determine the source.

Shin Splints Causes

  • Overpronation
  • Worn or improper shoes
  • Inadequate stretching
  • Excessive stress on one leg (crowned road or track running in the same direction)

 

Treating Shin Splints

What to do when shin pain begins? Take action immediately and your body will thank you. The sooner you begin treating the shin splints, the faster you’ll recover and get back to running. The thought of backing down on training can be frustrating; however taking a step down today can prevent you from having to stop completely from excruciating pain in the future. Depending on the severity either cut back on the mileage or stop running. Begin icing the area to reduce the inflammation. Consider cross training with swimming or biking to supplement your workouts.

Gentle stretches can help to loosen the tension in the area. If the pain is in the medial, front area of the shin, stretch the Achilles. If the pain is on the anterior, outside of the leg, stretch the calves.

Additional exercises can also help in the recovery process. Try walking on your heels with 30 second intervals of heel walking and regular walking for a total of two minutes. Another exercise is to trace the alphabet on the floor with the toes. While sitting in a chair do this with one leg and then the other.

Muscle Stripping is a very effective treatment that allows runners to continue training, while speeding the recovery time. Visiting the Running Doctor with the onset of pain will allow you to determine the cause of pain and keep your training on track. If you have been dealing with shin pain and it hasn’t gone away for weeks and you have tried everything, schedule an appointment today to begin getting treatment. Call 678.705.2709 to begin running pain free.

Treating shin splints starts with a complete analysis of the tibial area. To rule out a more serious problem or a stress fracture, x-rays or bone scans may be used to detect a fracture.

Treating Shin Splints

  • Ice the area for ten minutes, three times a day
  • Check your shoes to make sure you have proper support
  • Consider wearing orthotics
  • Avoid excessive impact and supplement training with swimming or cycling
  • Schedule time to visit the Running Doctor

Shin Splints Recovery

After the symptoms have subsided and you resume your training, remember to gradually increase mileage and intensity. Ensure you are wearing proper shoes for your individual foot needs. Orthotics may be needed to give you the proper support and to prevent future injuries. Consider rotating two pairs of running shoes. Alternate between the two shoes and you will limit the stress on your legs.

Limit hard surfaces and find soft trails to run on. If the road is crowned for rain drainage, switch the sides you run on so your body gets equal stress to both sides. With track workouts, consider switching directions to avoid excessive stress to one side.

 

Prevention

Preventing shin splints is similar to avoiding all injuries. Train with gradual increases with incremental mileage increases and raising intensity level. Schedule recovery days with easy intensity. Wear proper footwear and get orthotics if your feet need more support. Remember to buy shoes after 500 miles or about every 6 months. When available, run on soft surfaces such as grass or trails results in less pounding, in contrast to pavement or concrete. If you are prone to shin splints, pay careful attention to keeping the lower legs lose and stretching the calves and Achilles.

The most important factor that is often overlooked is simply listening to your body. Often the initial twinges can be ignored and will subside after a run, but left untreated can lead to long lasting pain. With the earliest warning sign, consider taking a day off or cross train and visit the Running Doctor to hasten recovery.

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