Shin splints can cause acute, disabling pain, which is bad enough if you don’t play sports competitively, but can completely derail your progress toward your goals if you’re a serious athlete.
At Cortez Foot & Ankle Specialists, with locations in Bradenton, Sarasota, University Park, and Ellenton, Florida, our team of experienced podiatric specialists treat common sports injuries like shin splints and can educate you on how to avoid such injuries in the future.
Causes of shin splints
In many cases, a tendency toward shin splints is genetic. If you have flat feet, or fallen arches, you’re much more likely to develop shin splints. Other reasons for shin splints include:
- Footwear that is ill-fitted, doesn’t properly support your feet and legs, or is worn out
- Workouts that don’t include appropriate warm-up and cool-down segments
- Weakness in your core muscles, or joints like the ankle, knee, or hip
- Overuse and repetitive stress, leading to inflammation around the tibia
- Running on too hard, too soft, too slanted, or too uneven terrain
- Increasing your training too quickly without a supportive strengthening routine
If you don’t get the right treatment for shin splints and keep training, you put yourself at high risk for a stress fracture of the tibia.
Shin splint prevention
Reduce your risk of developing painful shin splints by:
Don’t skip critical parts of your workout
Making sure that you warm up before your workouts and cool down afterward. This ensures your tissues are appropriately loosened and stretched out before and after you put stress on them.
Don’t ramp up too fast
If you are new to your sport or returning after time away, don’t get overeager. Shin splints are more likely if you push too hard too soon, or try to increase your training volume too quickly. Plan your ramp-up carefully with an eye toward gaining strength and endurance over a sensible period of time.
Watch your terrain
Do you run a lot on hard surfaces, or up and down hills? Vary where and how you run by spending time on grass, on a soft track, or doing light trail work suitable for your level of endurance and skill.
Don’t skip leg day
Building and strengthening your calf muscles can protect your shins when you push off from the ground and cushion your landings. We can suggest specific leg-strengthening exercises that fit your sport.
Wear the right shoes
Ask for a gait analysis to determine what type of shoes are best for your feet. We can create custom-molded orthotics that support flat feet or weak arches, as well as feet that turn in or out.
Treating shin splints
If you experience pain in your shins, apply the RICE methodology immediately: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
It’s critical to rest your leg as much as possible, and don’t participate in any high-impact activities like jumping and running, which could aggravate your leg pain and increase your chances of a stress fracture.
Use a towel-wrapped ice pack, and apply it to your sore shins for 15 minutes at a time. Repeat this several times during the day. A compression sleeve can help improve your circulation and reduce swelling— ask us for recommendations for the best type for your shin splints. You should also prop your leg up as much as possible to reduce inflammation.
Tired of dealing with the pain and aggravation of shin splints? Contact the location nearest you by phone to schedule an appointment, or book online today.