It’s getting close to beach season and I bet this spring you were excited about getting back into your fitness program so you could fit into that new bathing suit you just bought. And as the weeks pass your workouts went well, you started noticing results. You felt good and were well on your way to losing those pounds that were put on during Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas feasts, and New Year’s resolutions that you were not able to achieve. Then out of the blue and all of a sudden you began to notice some pain in the front of your lower leg around the shin during your workouts. At first, it was a mild dull ache and the pain went away with rest and it seemed to be no big deal at the time. Now, the pain continuously comes back during workouts and lasts the entire workout, even during rest. The thought of a workout at this point has you sprinting for the ice packs and anti-inflammatories. So, you wonder what’s going on. What is your body trying to tell you? Have you developed a rare debilitating disease and you are the only one who has it? The answer is no. Unfortunately, you have probably developed a good old case of shin splints.
So, What Exactly are Shin Splints?
Shin splints are basically an overuse injury. The overuse of the lower extremity causes an inflammatory condition. This affects the front part of the bone in the lower leg, otherwise known as the tibia as well as the soft tissue that connects to the muscles that overly that bone. Shin splints are a very common condition. In fact, it is one of the most common overuse injuries.
What Causes Shin Splints?
Shin splints are caused by running on hard surfaces, over pronation of the foot, over supination of the foot, trying to increase your training regimen too soon, and especially exercising in improper shoe gear.
Treatment for shin splints consists of a multifaceted approach.
• Rest your legs and take a load off. First and foremost with any overuse injury nothing beats rest. It is important to limit the activities that caused the pain in the first place. Does this mean you have to stop all exercise activities? The answer is no. But do modify your workout. Try low-impact exercises like swimming, biking, or water aerobics. These are great ways to stay active and keep you fit until you can get back to your normal activities.
• Ice. It is always a good idea to ice. Icing with ice packs helps reduce the inflammation. It is important to ice the affected area at least 4 times a day for 15 to 20 minutes.
• Elevate. Elevation of the affected extremity is also important. Elevation helps reduce any swelling that may accompany shin splints. Make sure you elevate the injured extremity above the level of the heart.
• Compress. Compression with an ace wrap around the tibia can also aide in reducing any soft tissue swelling as well as provide some support to the lower legs.
• Wear proper shoe gear. Proper shoe gear is an essential part of any fitness plan. It is important that your athletic shoe is suited for your type of activity and especially for your foot type.
• Take Anti-inflammatories. There are many different types out there. Aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin), naproxen sodium (Aleve), and ketoprofen (Orudis KT) and acetaminophen (Tylenol and Panadol) just to name a few. These medications not only help reduce inflammation but also may relieve any pain.
• Arch supports. There is nothing like having more support and cushion. Arch supports can help reduce the stress placed on the lower extremity by providing and extra cushion to absorb the force from exercise and everyday use. Arch supports can be bought off-the-shelf from various stores and come in a multitude of sizes that can be used immediately out of the box. However, you might need more durable and stronger supports. In this case Atlantic Foot & Ankle Specialists can make a custom molded orthotic from a plaster cast or a scan of your foot.Visit us at www.atlanticfeet.com.