Taking the power away from shin splints

Published: Monday, April 22, 2024
Fellowship Trained Foot & Ankle Specialist 

Spring has sprung, and with the new season comes renewed energy and motivation to train for your sport. As you gear up for the upcoming season, you might find yourself pushing harder and increasing your endurance. However, a nagging pain in the front of your leg threatens to sideline your training efforts.

Understanding Shin Splints

Medial tibial stress syndrome, commonly known as shin splints, is characterized by a dull, achy pain along the shin bone, extending from just above the ankle to below the knee. This pain intensifies during running or exercise, making it challenging to maintain a consistent training routine. Shin splints result from repetitive stress on the shinbone and the soft tissues attaching muscle to bone. Typically, athletes experience this condition after weeks or months of intense exercise. The pain usually subsides during exercise as blood flow increases but returns post-workout and often lingers the next morning.

Recent studies indicate that shin splints make up to 16% of all running injuries, affecting both novice and competitive runners. Specific risk factors include flat feet, high-arched feet, improper footwear, training on uneven surfaces, previous lower leg injuries, and sudden increases in training intensity. Notably, shin splints aren’t exclusive to runners; they can also afflict athletes in high-impact sports like basketball, soccer, tennis, and football.

Prevention is Key

Prevention remains the most effective strategy against shin splints. Always warm up for 5-15 minutes before training to prepare your muscles for the workload. While achieving peak performance is crucial, gradual increases in training distance, following the “10% rule,” can help you peak at the right time without risking injury. Collaborate with trainers and sports therapists to incorporate exercises that strengthen and stabilize your legs, ankles, hips, and core, enhancing your ability to handle high-impact activities. Moreover, invest in quality training shoes with proper stability and cushioning, replacing them every 300-500 miles or 4-6 months for regular runners.

Managing Shin Splints

If shin splints do occur, prioritizing rest allows the muscle and bone interface adequate time to heal. During this recovery period, applying ice twice daily for 20 minutes and taking oral anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen can alleviate symptoms. To maintain cardiovascular fitness without exacerbating the condition, consider low-impact exercises such as cycling or swimming.

If you suspect a more severe injury like a stress fracture, characterized by intense localized pain along the shin bone, consult a physician immediately. However, most shin splint cases don’t require medical intervention unless there’s a potential for a stress fracture.

Seeking Professional Help

If you’re experiencing persistent pain related to shin splints or suspect a stress fracture, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment online today with one of our providers at Northeast Georgia Physicians Group Podiatry. We’ll help tailor a treatment plan to fit your specific needs

Don’t let shin splints derail your training or performance. With proper prevention and management strategies, you can take control and keep pushing towards your athletic goals.