Shin splints are among the most common and frustrating injuries experienced by those who run or take part in other high-impact sports, particularly those who have flat feet or high arches.
The pain and tenderness felt along the shinbone is caused by muscles and bones repeatedly tugging at your shin until it becomes inflamed and weakened. Over time they can lead to stress fractures, so they need to be addressed early. Your health care provider can help you rule these out as the cause of your symptoms.
Shin splints frequently occur when an athlete increases their activity, such as adding to the miles run per day.
Rest and regular icing is the first step toward healing, but it won’t always keep the pain from returning, so here are some of the measures you can take to keep it at bay.
- Rest — Anyone with shin splints should take a break from whatever activities seem to be triggering them; lower-impact alternatives like cycling are OK as long as they don’t aggravate the pain.
Three or four weeks is generally enough time, but you’ll want to slowly ease back into your fitness regimen, stopping again if the pain comes back.
- Check your shoes — Running or other athletic shoes need to be replaced regularly as they lose their cushioning power with regular use, and it can degrade over time even when just sitting in the closet.
Orthotic inserts for arch support can be a huge help in relieving the pain, especially if you have flat feet.
- Location, location, location — Do you run or play on uneven, hard (like cement) or hilly surfaces? These can be another trigger for shin splints, so if you seem to be prone to them try to avoid these areas.
- Check your gait — Your stride may be too long, your feet may be rolling inward or other aspects of the way you run can predispose you to shin splints, so asking a trainer or doctor to evaluate you is often helpful.
- Stretch — As long as they’re not painful, stretches that target your shin or calf muscles can relieve pain.