How to treat shin splints, Their Symptoms, and Causes

Author:

Dr. Gururaj S Puranik, Senior Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedics

SHIN SPLINTS is the name for pain in the front of the lower legs. Common in people who do a lot of running.

Symptoms

The pain tends to:

  • Begin soon after starting an exercise
  • Gradually improve when resting
  • Dull and achy to begin with, but becomes increasingly sharp

Causes

  • Running or repetitive weight-bearing leads to inflammation of the tissue around the shin bone.
  • Predisposing factors
  • A sudden change in activity level – such as starting a new exercise or suddenly increasing the running distance
  • Running on hard or uneven surfaces
  • Poorly fitting trainers
  • Overweight
  • Flat feet
  • Tight calf muscles or weak ankles

Treatment

  • Rest
  • Stop the activity that causes pain for 2-3 weeks
  • Ice packs for 10 minutes every few hours
  • Painkillers
  • Switch to low-impact activities – Eg cross-trainer or swimming and yoga

You can start to return to activities over the following few weeks once the pain has gone

Prevention

  • Wear trainers with appropriate cushioning
  • Run and train on flat, soft surfaces
  • Introduce any changes in activity level gradually
  • Mix high-impact exercises like running with low-impact exercises like swimming
  • Lose weight if you’re overweight
  • Warmup before exercising and stretch after exercising especially stretches of calves and leg muscles
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