What to Do When You Get Shin Splints

Shin splints are a common injury in runners and dancers. The medical term for this is medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). It simply means that a person is experiencing pain in their shin.

Causes

Shin splints are caused by repetitive and excessive force on the shin. People with more athletic lifestyles are more likely to suffer from shin splints. Dancers, tennis players, soccer players, and basketball players are likely to get shin splints. The stop-start, rough playing style of these sports puts extra stress on the shins.

The repetitive force and working out of the muscles along the shin causes those muscles to become swollen. These swollen muscles push on the tibia, or shin bone, and this causes pain.

Highly athletic people can also develop micro fractures in their bones. Shin splints can be a stress reaction from a small bone fracture. Over time, if a person experiences pain like shin splints but does not rest, these small bone fractures can become complete fractures. 

Symptoms

The main symptom of shin splints is pain on the inner side of the shin. Your shin might be tender and sore while you perform athletic activities. Your lower leg might become swollen. The pain will likely first appear as temporary pain that occurs while you exercise, but eventually, the pain could become continuous.

Treatment

According to bhdorthopedics.com, the best treatment for shin splints is to rest. If you start to experience shin splint pains every time you do a certain activity, try to refrain from that activity for two weeks to allow your shins and muscles time to heal.

Use ice packs to reduce pain and swelling. Place an ice pack on your shin and leave it there for around 15 minutes. You can do this several times a day until the pain goes away. Ibuprofen can also be used to help reduce swelling and pain.

Most shin splint issues can be treated at home using ice, rest, and anti-inflammatories. If these methods aren’t working for you, your doctor can help you find different remedies that can ease your pain. An X-ray may need to be taken of your shin to see if the lasting pain is the result of a stress fracture.

Prevention

Shin splints are a painful and frustrating experience, so it is good to take precautions against them. New runners are at a higher risk for shin splints because they are working out new muscles. New runners should slowly begin running and allow their muscles to have time to develop and strengthen, this will help new runners avoid shin splints. It is important to keep these muscles conditioned, but work up to more difficult exercises slowly.

Participating in lower impact sports is a good way to avoid shin splints. Walking and biking are good exercises that are low impact. Try to do exercises on softer ground. The softer ground will cushion your feet and help lessen the impact when the foot makes contact with the ground.

Wearing supportive footwear can help give your feet and legs extra support and prevent shin splints. Wear arch supports and replace shoes every 300-500 miles you walk in them.

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