By Ross Ashcraft
At some point in most people’s lives they have that burning or aching sensation in the lower legs that we call Shin Splints. The medical condition is called Tibial Stress Syndrome, and it can truly ruin a great day. This is a common problem for dancers and those that move quickly, and it is the cause of 13% of ALL running injuries. Some people only feel it when they work out. For others, it is brings constant pain.
There is no single cause for shin splints for shin splints. It can be caused by:
1.) Overuse of muscles causing them to be swollen and inflamed. These swelling muscles encroach in the territory of neighboring nerves and just like a neighbor who visits too much it can start to get on your nerves.
2.) Small hairline stress fractures causing pain and discomfort. These are like the small cracks in your house. They can accumulate over time or be caused by a recent earthquake.
3.) Flat feet are the last cause of this aggravating condition. Flat feet are cause by overpronation of your feet. Basically, the arch of your foot is collapsing inward and this causes the bones in your lower leg to shift to bad position for their overall health.
Do I Have It?
Palpate both sides of your shin or Tibia bone. If the area feels swollen or is painful to the touch and you have a feel of weakness or numbness in the feet, you should consider have a doctor X-ray them.
1.) Rest is the best solution. However, this could take weeks or even months. Try at least changing to a lower impact sport like swimming until the pain stops occurring.
2.) Icing your shins is an effective treatment. Follow the pattern of 10-10-10. 10 minutes of Ice; 10 minutes of rest; & 10 minutes of ice. Wait an hour or two and repeat. Do this for two to three days or until the pain leaves.
3.) Buy arch supports or increase the arch support in your running shoe. An orthopedist can measure you for them, or two local stores I recommend are Ideal Feet and Fleet Feet. They will evaluate your arches and recommend specifically designed shoes and/or shoe inserts.
4.) Draw the alphabet with your toes. It’s a great range of motion exercise. You’ll feel goofy doing it, but it will loosen your feet and ankles. In order, the three most important times to do this are: a.) Right before bed; b.) After physical activity; c.) First thing in the morning.
5.) A neoprene sleeve purchased from any drug store will support the ankle joint and help in maintain stability during physical activity.
6.) Pursue physical therapy to bring balanced strength to the area.
1.) Always wear shoes with sole support.
2.) Always stretch ankles before and after physical activity.
3.) Don’t play or run on hard surfaces like concrete.
4.) Stop as soon as you feel the pain in your shins. Playing through the PAIN is a mistake.
How do I know that I am healed?
1.) Legs are equally flexible.
2.) Legs are equally strong.
3.) You can run and play without pain.
4.) X-rays show no more stress fractures.
Shin splints can take their own sweet time to heal. Give them time and don’t rush headlong back into the physical activities that birthed the problem in the first place.
I’d love to know your stories about shin splints. Please tell us your story or any family member’s story that has ever suffered from this condition. Tell us how you/they treated it. If you have had no experience with the condition…well..then God Bless you…would you please tell us which of my treatments above you feel is the most effective.