Shin splints. Most of us have had them, none of us enjoy them. They are usually sudden and painful, but what do we actually know about shin splints? Are they treatable, or even avoidable? The term ”shin splints” is commonly used to describe the pain which occurs along the tibia or shin bone.
Most often, this unpleasant symptom is the result of strenuous exercise or a drastic change in an exercise routine. ”Shin splints” is actually a nickname for medial tibial stress syndrome, though you likely will only hear it called that by a medical professional. The cause of the pain, essentially, is increased stress on the shinbone and the connective tissues that attach muscles to your bones. This causes inflammation and pain and can put a big damper on your exercise routine.
Medial tibial stress syndrome doesn’t choose its victims at random. There are several physical characteristics that can make an individual more prone to experiencing these unpleasant pains. Overpronation, or in layman’s terms ”Flat feet” are a common predisposition. When repeated impact (such as prolonged walking, jogging , or running) causes your foot’s arch collapse, it may trigger an episode of shin splints.
Working out without doing any type of warm-up or cool-down routine can also be a trigger. Wearing shoes that do not provide adequate arch support, or are not a good fit are also possible catalysts, so be sure to wear the proper gear when working out or doing strenuous activity.
So now we know ways we can avoid experiencing shin splints, but what happens when the circumstances are right and they do occur, and should you seek medical help? The facts are, many instances of shin splints resolve entirely on their own. Doing things like resting, and using ice in intervals to ease pain or swelling can help relieve symptoms. If necessary, over the counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers can also be of use, addressing both the pain and swelling. Always be sure to read and follow the directions on the label when using over the counter pain medication. They aren’t right for every situation and can have serious side effects when used incorrectly. If the pain persists or you are concerned, when in doubt, always check with your doctor.
Shin splints are never fun, but the key to avoiding them is taking proper preventative methods. Ensuring your footwear fits correctly and provides proper support, and utilizing orthopedic inserts when needed, play a major role in decreasing stress on the shins and ultimately avoiding unwanted inflammation. Always take time to warm up or cool down, particularly when performing unusually strenuous activities or exercise. If shin splints do occur, using ice and resting should remedy the situation. Always be sure to consult with your physician if you suspect injury or have any underlying health issues or concerns.