Shin splints are painful. While you may not think about them much before you get them, there’s one thing for sure – once you get them, you don’t want them ever again.
The medical term for shin splints is tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). When people suffer from MTSS, they may feel pain along the front of the lower leg. Some people suffer from pain each side of the lower leg as well.
Shin splints happen mostly because too much stress is placed on the tibia or the muscles surrounding it. Runners often experience it, but those who participate in other highly intensive physical activities can end up with the condition.
The good news is that shin splints can be treated. Rest is usually the best course of action. If you have to walk, use ice to decrease the pain and swelling. Cold compresses every 20-30 minutes every three to four hours for a couple of days can help. Over-the-counter pain relievers can also make recovery much more bearable.
Your body does a good job recovering from shin splints on its own. If the pain doesn’t subside after a couple of days, you may want to seek medical attention from a foot and ankle doctor, such as one at Suffolk Foot and Ankle.
Now you know what shin splints are and how to recover from the condition. To ensure you don’t have to deal with the pain and recovery again, the following are some of the best ways to prevent them.
Stretching your calves and hamstrings can help the flexibility in those areas, making it less likely you’ll end up with an injury.
Runners and other athletes often push themselves beyond their limits. This may be good when training for speed or distance, but it’s not so good on your body. Take your time to build up your endurance, strength and power to decrease the chance of injury.
If possible, exercise on soft surfaces. This is why gyms often have mats on their floors. They are much better for your bones and joints.
Runners often run on sidewalks, streets, and other concrete surfaces. While there may not be any way around this if that’s your preferred exercise, try to do other forms of exercise on softer surfaces.
The arch of your foot is fully developed by age 8. Due to injuries, age, and some health conditions, the structure of the arch can change. This can cause muscle weakness in the foot, as well as in the lower leg, which causes shin splits.
Increasing foot strength can help prevent shin splints. One exercise you may want to try is to use your toes to pull a towel on the floor closer to your foot. Doing this regularly can help decrease the risk of shin splints.
Weak hip muscles can place more pressure on your legs, including the muscles in your lower legs. When you strengthen your hip muscles, that pressure decreases.
The best way to strengthen hip muscles is to do the following exercises:
As always, take it slow when increasing strength. Overdoing it can lead to other injuries.
Running and performing other physical activities without paying attention to form can quickly lead to injuries. People who are tired often get lazy with their form, which is another reason not to overwork yourself.
Since it can be difficult to know if you have the right form, consider asking a personal training to analyze it. He can watch you run, and help you improve your form. Not only will then decrease your risk of injury, but it can also help you perform better.
When your sneakers are too tight, they can place too much pressure on your feet. Loose sneakers don’t provide enough support. Make sure to get sneakers that support your feet, including the arch and heal.
Many running stores have a feet analysis tool to help identify what type of sneaker is best. You can also speak to an ankle and foot doctor for recommendations.
Body weight can put too much pressure on your tibia and other leg muscles. While you may not be able to do much about the weight if you’re just starting to lead a healthier lifestyle, it’s something to keep in mind as you hit your weight and exercise goals.
If you’re suffering from shin splints that haven’t subsided in a couple of days or another type of sports injury, contact Suffolk Foot and Ankle. Our team of podiatrists are highly experienced at diagnosing and treating injuries having to do with the foot and/or ankle. We have offices throughout Long Island in East Patchogue, Riverhead, Medford, and Commack. Call us now at 631-604-4948 or click here to request an appointment online.