Health & Diet

All You Should Know About Shin Splints

Day 172:  Preventative medicinePhoto by mattfred

Shin splints is a term which refers to pain along the shinbone. It is the large bone in the front of the lower leg. This condition is common in dancers, runners and military recruits. Shin splints usually occurs in people who have recently changed their training routines.

The bone tissue, tendons and muscles become overworked by the increased activity. Most cases of this condition can be treated with ice, rest as well as other self-care measures. Modifying your exercise routine and waring proper footwear can help prevent shin splints from recurring.

Causes

Shin splints occur over a period of time when constant stress and pounding are placed on the muscles, bones, and joints of the lower leg. The result is inflammation and irritation, both causes of pain. There are several factors which contribute to this condition, such as:

– Sudden increase in training duration, frequency, or intensity
– Running downhill
– Exercising on inclined or hand surfaces
– Old shoes
– Previous history of the condition
– Rigid arches, flat feet, and over-pronation
– Failure to rehab a previous bout of the condition

Symptoms

You may notice some of the following symptoms, if you have shin splints:

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– Pain which subsides when not exercising
– Tenderness (Along inner or front part of the lower leg)
– Mild swelling
– Pain when toes or foot are bent downward
– Lower leg pain
– Gradual onset of symptoms
– At first, the pain can stop when you stop exercising or running. However, eventually the pain may be continuous.

Treatment

Normally, you can treat the condition with simple self-care steps, such as:

Rest – You should avoid activities which cause pain, discomfort or swelling. However, don’t give up all physical activity. Try low-impact exercises, such as bicycling, swimming or water running, while you are healing.

Take an over-the-counter pain reliever – Try acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve), or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) to reduce pain.

Ice the affected area – Apply ice to the affected shin for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Do this 4 to 8 times a day for a few days. In order to protect your skin, wrap the ice in a thin towel.

You should gradually resume your usual activities. In case your shin is not completely healed, returning to your normal activities can cause continued pain.

Prevention

In order to prevent shin splints, you should try the following suggestions:

Add strength training – Try toes raise in order to strengthen your calf muscles. Stand up and slowly ruse up on your toes. Then slowly lower your heels in the starting position. Repeat the exercise 10 times. Other exercises, such as leg presses for your lower legs, can be helpful, as well.

Lessen the impact – Cross-train with a sport which places less impact on the shins, such as biking, walking or swimming. Make sure to start new activities slowly. Gradually increase intensity and time.

Arch supports – Arch supports can help prevent the pain of this condition, especially if you have flat arches.

Choose the right shoes – If you are a runner, you should replace your shoes about every 400 miles. Wear footwear which suits your sport.

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