Shin Splints: Common Injury or Something More Serious?
That throbbing, aching feeling in the front of your lower leg, known as “shin splints,” is a common injury among the physically active. Shin splints can be more than just a nuisance; they can lead to more serious problems if left untreated.
Shin splints, also called tibial stress syndrome or periostitis, is a result of the muscles and bone tissues surrounding the shin bone (tibia) becoming inflamed from stress and repetitive physical activity, usually from a striking motion such as running. This creates the soreness that many people experience in the muscles around the shin.
While many people think this is only a problem for runners, dancers, walkers and those in physical training, less active individuals have also felt the sting. In addition, people with flat feet or high arches are also more susceptible to shin splints.
Fortunately, shin splints can usually be treated effectively at home. Resting from your activities that brought on the condition, icing the affected area, and over-the-counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help alleviate the pain and inflammation.
Failing to treat this condition altogether and continuing physical activities can result in stress fractures, leaving you on crutches or in a walking boot for an extended period of time.
If the pain does not subside with treatments from home, you should see your podiatrist to ensure you have not sustained a stress fracture.
How Do You Avoid Shin Splints?
- Start Slowly: Don’t go too hard too fast. A sudden increase in activity will put undue stress on your muscles. The rule of thumb is to increase your workout by only 10 percent in volume, intensity or duration once a week.
- Strengthen: Working on your core and leg muscles can help prevent injuries and stabilize joints, ligaments, and tendons.
- Footwear: Proper footwear for the type of activity you are involved in is key. The right type of shoes can help absorb impact and prevent your shins from suffering undue stress.
- Stretch: Always do a warm-up and cool down to stretch your core and leg muscles.
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