Understanding Shin Splints

Shin splints is one of the most common injuries that connects runners all over the world. Also known as medial tibial stress syndrome this aliment can be very painful and irritating to deal with as a runner. Here are some facts you need to know about shin splints to educate yourself about what they are and how you can help to alleviate them.

What are Shin Splints?
Shin splints are an irritation on the front of your lower leg that manifests as pain, swelling and soreness. The pain is caused by muscles pulling on the shin bone called the tibia. This happens due to overworking and overloading the muscles and bone (tibia) load of the lower extremity.

What causes Shin Splints?
Shin splints are caused by physical activities such as running. Certain motions can make an athlete more prone to getting shin splints. These motions are: running on uneven surfaces, not wearing the proper running shoes, running on hilly surfaces, and frequently stopping and starting during activity. The contour of your feet can also affect the probability of acquiring shin splints. People with flat feet have a much greater chance of getting shin splints because it causes the muscles on the shin to pull harder on it.

How do I heal Shin Splints?
The best way to heal shin splints is to rest from the activity that caused them to appear. This treatment is not always feasible (or desirable) so there are some other things that can be done to lessen there severity. These include icing the area for 15 minutes 5 times a day, getting new running shoes that properly support your feet, and taking over the counter medication that also has a anti-inflammatory agent to reduce swelling. Providing support with an appropriate insole or custom orthotic can also provide the biomechanical support and control needed to reduce the pull of the muscles and prevent the pain from returning.

Shin splints are a very common obstacle that many athletes have to overcome. Just because you have shin splints does not mean you need to stop a sport or activity that you love. If the information above does not help to alleviate the pain then you may want to consult your podiatrist for further treatment.
Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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