The Basics on Shin Splints and How to Avoid Them

Although the name has “shin” in it, it’s directly related to your foot and how it hits the ground or surface in sports, running or your daily activities. Knowing how and why this can occur can help you dodge discomfort.

What are shin splints?
Shin splints are a condition that causes pain and sometimes swelling in the front part of the lower leg (shin) . The pain is most likely from repeated stress on the shinbone (tibia) and the tissue that connects the muscle to the tibia. They are common in people who run or jog. Activities where you run or jump on hard surfaces, such as basketball or tennis, can also lead to this painful condition.

What causes shin splints?
Most people get shin splints from repeated pounding on hard surfaces during activities. You can also get them when you:

  • Change to new running or workout shoes or wear shoes that don’t have enough support—also when you wear your shoes too long and they wear out.
  • Run or walk on a different surface than you are used to. For example, you might get shin splints when you switch from running on a trail to concrete or asphalt.
  • Work out harder than usual or train too hard or too fast instead of working up to a training level gradually.

Some people have flat arches in their feet, which can make the feet roll inward when running. This may also lead to shin splints.

Most cases of shin splints can be treated with rest, ice and other self-care measures. Wearing proper footwear and modifying your exercise routine can help prevent shin splints from recurring.

If you have shin splints, you might notice tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner side of your shinbone and mild swelling in your lower leg. At first, the pain might stop when you stop exercising. Eventually, however, the pain can be continuous and might progress to a stress reaction or stress fracture.

Therefore it is important that people who are overweight, combine their exercise with a diet or try to lose weight before starting therapy or a training program. When to see a doctor
Consult your doctor if rest, ice and over-the-counter pain relievers don’t ease your shin pain.

Risk factors
You’re more at risk of shin splints if:

  • You’re a runner, especially beginner
  • You suddenly increase the duration, frequency or intensity of exercise
  • You run on uneven terrain, such as hills, or hard surfaces, such as concrete
  • You’re in military training
  • You have flat feet or high arches

To help prevent shin splints:

  • Avoid overdoing. Too much running or other high-impact activity performed for too long at too high an intensity can overload the shins.
  • Choose the right shoes. If you’re a runner, replace your footgear regularly. For daily wear shoes, look for quality support and cushioning in the footbed.
  • Consider arch supports. Arch supports can help prevent the pain of shin splints, especially if you have flat arches.
  • Consider shock-absorbing insoles. They might reduce shin splint symptoms and prevent recurrence.
  • Lessen the impact. Cross-train with a sport that places less impact on your shins, such as swimming, walking or biking.
  • Add strength training to your workout. Exercises to strengthen and stabilize your legs, ankles, hips and core can help prepare your legs to deal with high-impact activities.

Note: People who are overweight are more susceptible to getting this syndrome. Therefore it is important that people who are overweight, combine their exercise with a diet or try to lose weight before starting therapy or a training program. Cold weather contributes to this symptom as well, therefore it’s important (even more than usual) to warm up properly.


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