Most runners, especially beginners, are familiar with the sharp, debilitating pain of shin splints. Shin splints can vary in intensity and the part of your lower leg they affect. The pain may be on the outside (anterior) or inside (medial) of your leg.
While it’s an injury most commonly associated with runners, shin splints can affect many athletes. Luckily, though they may be painful and will surely knock you off your feet for a while, shin splints aren’t serious. That’s why the first thing you should do when you experience lower leg pain is to make sure it’s not a more serious conditions.
Rule out compartment syndrome and stress fractures.
Compartment syndrome results from muscle swelling. Signs of compartment syndrome will be pain, unusual sensations, and weakness. Compartment syndrome is much more serious than shin splints and may require surgery to relieve the pressure.
Stress fractures often get confused with shin splints. The symptoms are similar, but a stress fracture will have a very specific pain point. Shin splints affect an entire area, while you can identify a stress fracture by identifying a spot of pain.
Once you’ve identified your pain as shin splints, stop doing anything which causes you pain. If the pain is manageable you can continue with reduced training. Then follow these steps:
- Ice: As usual with sports injuries, ice is the first step in treating shin splints. Stick to 15 to 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off.
- Stretch: Shin splints are often a result of muscle imbalance. Tight calves and Achilles contribute to this imbalance. Stretch these muscles for treatment and prevention.
- Wrap: When you get back to running or training, wrap your shin. A proper wrap will reduce stress on your leg until the pain goes away.
- Do leg exercises: As mentioned earlier, shin splints are caused by a muscle imbalance. Calf strengthening exercises are good for treatment and prevention.
For more information and treatment on shin splints or any other lower leg injuries, book an appointment with us, the Alpine Foot Specialists. We are foot care specialists in Lake Zurich, Illinois. To learn more about us and our services visit our website. You can also call for an appointment at (847)540-9949!