Shame on Those Shin Splints
What are shin splints?
Have you or your child ever returned to sports or began a new exercise program and had pain in the front of your shin? This is commonly referred to as shin splints, which is also called medial tibial stress syndrome. Generally, people describe this as a dull and achy pain that increases with activities that put increased forces on the legs, such as running and jumping. This pain can be the result of decreased bone strength leading due to small stress fractures. It can also be the result of muscles pulling at the bone where they attach to the bone, causing pain.
What causes shin splints?
Improper training techniques (i.e. training on had or uneven surfaces)
Sudden change in exercise intensity or increasing intensity too quickly
Changes in footwear
Muscle imbalances or inflexibility
Biomechanical dysfunctions (i.e. flat feet)
What are some simple solutions?
Decrease the frequency or intensity of training and then gradually build back up
Change the surface where you run. Instead of running on a sidewalk, run on a track.
Ice after exercise for 10-15 minutes.
Add ankle stretching and strengthening to your program (i.e. calf stretch).
Cross training: Instead of just running, walking, or jumping, try biking, swimming, or using the elliptical for exercise.
Foot orthotics: If you have biomechanical dysfunctions affecting your foot position, foot orthotics can help place your foot in a better position, add cushion to decrease the force going through your foot, and decrease the pain.
If these simple solutions do not relieve your symptoms, seek help from a physical therapist (PT). A PT will complete a thorough evaluation to determine if there are any mechanical dysfunctions, flexibility, and strength impairments that are contributing to your pain. A PT can also assist with determining the need for orthotics. At Synergy Family Therapy Specialists, we are excited about helping kids and adults improve the way they move so that they can live active lifestyles without pain.
Bottom line: If you or your child are returning to a sport or preparing for a race (5K, half marathon, triathlon, etc.), start early. This will allow you to gradually increase your exercise intensity to avoid pain and injury.