Injury and fear of injury are two of the primary reasons individuals either stop their current workout regiment or never begin. Recently, I have been dealing with shin splints, which is not only making my vigorous daily workout nearly impossible, but also daily life. A shin splint, otherwise known as tibial stress syndrome, occurs when you feel a sharp throbbing or aching feeling in your shins either during or just after physical activity. Causes of such pain include flat feet, stress fractures in the lower leg bones, and irritated or swollen muscles in the shins caused by overuse.
The most obvious treatment for shin splints is to simply stop doing the activities that are causing them. In my case, that is much easier said than done. The pain of my shin splints heightens while at work and while at the gym - two things that I definitely cannot give up. Alternative methods to reduce the pain of shin splints include:
- Icing the shin the reduce pain and swelling 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours for 2-3 days or until the pain is gone
- Use of a neoprene sleeve for support and to warm the leg
- Range of motion exercises to stretch the muscles
- Physical therapy
- Arch support shoes
- Anti-inflammatory painkillers
It may take several weeks to months in order for your shin splints to heal completely. You will know you’re cured when your injured leg is as flexible and feels as strong as your other leg, you can jog, sprint, and jump without pain, and your x-rays are normal or show stress fractures have healed.
If you’ve never had shin splits or you have before and want to prevent them from occurring again you should warm up before working out, making sure you’re stretching the muscles in your legs. At the onset of pain you should stop that activity as soon as possible and move to another non-painful activity. In the case of flat feet, you should always wear shoes with good support and padding and never run on hard surfaces, such as concrete, which impact the shins more traumatically.
To learn more about shin splints, click here.