It’s probably not all that often that military recruits and dancers find themselves lumped together in the same category. Military personnel train for combat and are charged with defending our nation. Dancers express themselves artistically on a stage. One connection between these vastly different groups of people, though, is an increased susceptibility to certain injuries, including shin splints.
Shin Splint Causes and Symptoms
Shin splints, also known as “tibial stress syndrome,” are a fairly common medical condition experienced by many individuals for a multitude of specific reasons.
The injury develops along the tibia, which is the larger of the two bones that comprise your lower leg. This particular bone is a key component of both the ankle and knee joints and is responsible for supporting most of the bodyweight when you are upright. The tibia and its corresponding tendons and muscles become injured in response to repetitive stress. When they become overworked, the connective tissues that anchor muscles to the shinbone are particularly affected.
More specifically, this particular overuse injury happens when levels of duration and/or intensity of physical activity are increased without a gradual buildup. Some individuals who tend to have an increased risk of developing shin splints include:
- New runners
- Military recruits who are not used to physical activity
- Those who have arch abnormalities – cavus foot (high foot arches) or flatfoot
- Athletes who play sports that require sudden starts and stops on hard surfaces
The predominant shin splint symptom is simply the sharp pain that often accompanies physical activity (especially running). Tenderness and soreness along the inner edge of the tibia bone are also quite common. Sometimes, swelling can be present, but this is not always the case.
It is worth noting that you may feel the pain stop when you have finished running, dancing, or participating in other physical activity, but this does not mean the condition is better. Without treating the condition, the pain can worsen and even become continuous. At that point, home care may not be as effective and you should come see us here at Richardson Podiatry Associates.
Shin Splint Treatment and Prevention
The good news is that most cases of tibial stress syndrome can be treated effectively with the use of at-home care. These conservative methods include:
- Rest. Taking time away from activities can certainly help improve the injury, but even better is to switch to low-impact exercises to keep you active, while at the same time allowing your overworked leg tissues to heal.
- Ice. Alleviate both swelling and pain by icing your affected shin four to eight times during the day for 15 to 20 minutes each time. Remember to wrap the ice in a thin towel to protect your skin from damage.
- Pain medication. Over-the-counter medications relieve pain and swelling, but always check with our office for recommended dosage and specific types that will work best for you.
The best practice for treating shin splints is to reduce your risk of sustaining the injury in the first place. The good news is that the best steps to avoid the condition are rather easy, like:
- Wearing proper footwear. Always wear shoes that fit correctly and are activity-appropriate. Replace running shoes after 350-500 miles of usage.
- Using arch supports. Over-the-counter inserts can provide arch support to keep shin splints at bay. You may also want to consider seeing us for custom orthotics that are crafted especially for your unique feet and gait pattern.
- Cross-training. Avoid overworking tissues in the lower legs by swapping out high-impact activities for some low-impact ones. Instead of running six days a week, run three times and swim or cycle on the other three days.
- Strength training. You can decrease your risk of this and other injuries by strengthening your calf muscles.
Effective Shin Splint Care in Richardson, TX
Shin splints are just one of the many conditions we treat for our patients here at Richardson Podiatry Associates. We provide care and prevention tips for a wide array of possible foot and ankle injuries and conditions. Contact our Richardson, TX foot doctor office to find out what we can do for you. Call us at (972) 690-5374 for more information or schedule your appointment online today.