If you love to run, chances are you have suffered shin pain from time-to-time. Studies have shown that shin splints are the most common cause of lower leg pain in those who run regularly.
However, this is not the only cause of shin pain which is why it is important to correctly identify the source of the problem. Pain in the front of lower leg can also be caused by compartment syndrome or stress fractures. The following is a brief overview of what shin splints are and how to manage them.
This condition causes pain along the tibia in the lower leg. It is most common after dancing, running or playing tennis but many types of athletes can develop it. Repetitive motions on hard surfaces are the primary reason this condition occurs. It is also more likely to develop after increasing the frequency or intensity of exercise. Those who exercise in shoes that are worn out or do not fit correctly are at an increased risk of developing a repetitive motion injury. Those who have very rigid foot arches or flat feet may also be more likely to have tibia pain.
Shin splints are characterized by pain in the tibia, located in the lower portion of the leg just below the knee.
This pain may be dull or throbbing or very sharp and intense. It may appear during exercise or shortly thereafter. Your leg may also feel swollen to the touch if you have this condition.
There are certain steps you can take to prevent the development of shin pain. If you are a runner, you must run with proper form to avoid this problem. Wearing shoes that fit your feet properly is also key in reducing these types of repetitive injuries. Choose shoes designed specifically for the sport you participate in.
Don’t wear cross trainers or tennis shoes to run long distances. There are fitness stores that can help you choose the right shoes for your foot.Placing shoe inserts inside your shoes can also help prevent pain by distributing the shock in the foot and reducing stress in the leg.
Another important aspect of preventing lower leg pain is exercise intensity. Gradually build up to longer running distances or increased exercise times. Trying to increase these things too fast can result in shin pain. In addition, try alternating sports to reduce the likelihood of shin pain. This is helpful since this type of pain is caused by repetitive movements.
If you have shin pain, you know how difficult it is to deal with. Since shin pain is caused by overuse and repetition, rest is the best way to recover. It may take several weeks of rest before you notice a reduction in pain. Once the pain is a bit better, try low impact exercises such as swimming or riding a stationary bike. Applying ice for 20 minutes twice daily may also help reduce shin pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or NSAID’s may also help relive pain. These are available over-the-counter or stronger formulas are available with a prescription from your doctor. You should be pain-free for at least 14 days before beginning your exercise program again. When you return to exercise, take the time to warm-up properly and stop if pain is present.
Persistent shin pain should be evaluated by a doctor if rest, ice and NSAID medications are not helpful in reducing pain. In some cases, a more serious condition such as compartment syndrome or a stress fracture is the cause of shin pain.