How to Prevent and Treat Shin Splints

How to Prevent and Treat Shin Splints

Aching pain on the front side of your lower legs that’s most intense when you run or walk is likely shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome. It occurs when repetitive stress causes inflammation in the muscles, tendons, and connective tissues along your shinbone (tibia). 

While certain structural issues in your feet can make your shins more prone to medial tibial stress syndrome, many of the causes of shin splints are preventable. 

Read on as our team of podiatry experts at Apple Podiatry Group in Arlington, Texas, offers proactive tips on how to stop shin splints before they start — and what to do if you do develop them. 

Why do I have shin splints?

Sometimes, shin splints are just an unlucky genetic consequence. If you have flat feet, or fallen arches, you’re more prone to developing shin splints. Other causes include:

Overuse and repetitive stress contribute to the inflammation that accompanies shin splints. Going too hard, too soon, or greatly increasing your training volume — especially if you’re a runner — can also lead to shin splints. 

The type of terrain you choose to run on also affects your susceptibility to shin splints. Uneven or slanted surfaces, and hard surfaces like concrete sidewalks, can contribute to the problem.

How can I prevent shin splints?

You can reduce your risk of developing painful shin splints with these tips:

Reassess your exercise habits

Don’t skip the warm-up or the cool down. The warm-up prepares connective tissue for work and increases blood flow, so it’s less likely to suffer trauma and inflammation. The cool down helps you ease out of your activity, and gives you time to do important leg stretches that help prevent shin splints. Our team can show you how to do these stretches properly.

Ease into your sport

Remember to ease into your running volume as well as your speed. Whether you’re new to the sport, returning to it following a hiatus, or aiming to build distance, increase your running mileage and speed gradually. 

Vary your terrain

If you find yourself doing a lot of hill work and/or running on hard surfaces, mix it up with track work, soft trails, or even grass. 

Strengthen your legs

Building muscle in your calves with exercises like calf raises helps support your shins so they’re not doing all the work when you push off to take a step. Strong calves also cushion your landings. Talk to us about which leg-strengthening exercises may be best for you. 

Pay attention to your shoes

We can do a gait analysis to help you understand what type of shoes are best for your feet. If you do have flat feet or your feet turn in excessively, you may benefit from a supportive shoe made for overpronators. Custom orthotics can also help support your arches and help prevent shin splints. 

How can I heal shin splints quickly?

At the first sign of pain in your shins, apply the RICE methodology. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Rest your leg as much as possible, and avoid any activity that aggravates your leg pain, particularly high-impact movements like jumping and running. 

Apply a towel-wrapped ice pack to your sore shins for 15 minutes, several times a day. Wear a compression sleeve to improve circulation and reduce swelling — we can help you find the right kind for your shin splints. Propping up your leg when you sit helps reduce inflammation. 

If you need help managing shin splints, reach out to us at Apple Podiatry Group. We help with all sorts of sports injuriesCall your nearest office in Arlington, Fort Worth, Flower Mound, or Irving, Texas, today, or use the easy online booking feature to schedule a visit any time. 

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