Healthy Living

Shin Splints: How to Prevent and Treat Them

Aug 20 2018
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From new shoes to stretches, there are many ways to help relieve the pain that comes from shin splints

Do you feel a general throbbing or aching running down the front of your shin when you’re active? You may have a shin splint. If you’re a runner or athletic in any way, you may be prone to shin splints. Although getting one can be painful, it’s not a serious injury. If you do get one, it helps to know how to treat it so you can get back to being active. Learn how to prevent shin splints with these tips.

Wear correct footwear

Choosing the right shoes is important when you’re active. If you’re a runner, consider replacing your shoes after training for a few hundred miles. If you have flat feet, arch supports can help prevent shin splints. Shock-absorbing shoe insoles can also reduce stress on your legs and lower the possibility of getting a shin splint.

Run in correct form

Sometimes all it takes is a small change in the way you run or move to lower your risk of getting shin splints. For example, when you run, don’t push off with your toes. Don’t land on your heel. Both of these motions can stress your shin and calf muscles. The best technique is to relax your lower legs when you run. Use the strength of your core to push forward and land on your mid-foot.

Stretch and strengthen

It’s always a good idea to strengthen your core to stay balanced when working out. It’s also wise to strengthen and stretch the lower part of your body β€” from your hips down to your ankles. Practice calf stretches and walking on heels daily to keep your legs strong. Do warm-up and cool-down stretches before and after a workout. The stronger your body is, the better it can handle the impact of exercise.

Avoid muscle stress

High-impact exercises, like running, can put stress on your muscles. Take steps to prevent getting shin splints by gradually building up the amount of time you work out or run. There are a few other important tips to keep in mind when exercising. They help you lessen the stress you put on your shins, including:

  • Running on even surfaces
  • Running on softer surfaces
  • Reducing workout intensity

Running down hills may sound easy, but it can stress the muscles in your shins. When running downhill, your foot slams hard on the ground and pulls sharply on your shin muscles. The impact can cause possible stress, injury and inflammation.

Shin splints treatment with RICE

Dr. Jeffrey Johnston, Mercy Health Orthopedic Surgeon and Team Physician for Ursuline High School, recommends the RICE technique for treating shin splints at home. That means “rest, ice, compression and elevation” of your leg. After icing your shin for 10 minutes at a time, wrap it in a towel to keep it stable. Then, elevate it to rest. Reduce shin splint inflammation with over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen.

Pain in your lower leg could also mean you have a stress fracture, which is a small crack in the bone that a doctor should diagnose. If rest, icing and pain relievers don’t help your shin splints symptoms, visit Mercy.com to make an appointment with a primary care physician or specialist.


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