Any avid runner has likely either experienced shin splints or has learned to live in fear of them. One of the most common running injuries, shin splints are an irritation on the front of your lower leg that causes you to experience pain, swelling and soreness in the area. The pain of shin splints is caused by the muscles of the lower leg beginning to pull on the tibia (shin bone); they do this when they are overworked and overloaded by the repetitive impact of a certain action (like running.)
Currently, the best treatment for shin splints is taking time off from the activity that caused you to develop the condition. For runners, hearing that prescription may be very frustrating, since taking a few days off from training can feel like an eternity to an avid pavement-pounder.
For those experiencing this frustration, take heart—scientists at the University of Canberra are working on a new, non-invasive treatment for this pesky condition. Lead researcher Dr. Phil Newman has discovered that exposing your legs to sound waves (extracorporeal shockwave therapy) can trick your body into healing shin splints at a faster rate by triggering its natural repair response. Though the treatment is still being studied, Newman has reported early success and is recruiting more volunteers for continued testing.
In my Houston podiatrist practice, I strive to keep on top of the newest treatments; I also prefer to offer my patients treatment options that are minimally invasive. Given that fact, I’ll certainly be on the watch for how this and similar studies turn out, and, until results are available, will work with you to help you recover quickly from shin splints or any other running injury that may be hampering your training process.