A relatively common repetitive stress injury that athletes sustain is shin splints. If you have this aching pain on the front of your lower legs, you feel it most when you walk or run.
Also called medial tibial stress syndrome, it occurs when repetitive stress, such as intense competition in many sports, causes the muscles, tendons, and connective tissues along the tibia (shinbone) to become inflamed.
Some people may be more prone to develop this condition due to certain structural issues in their feet. Most causes are from repeated stress, such as running and jumping, both of which place extra weight on this part of the lower legs. Many of the causes of shin splints are preventable.
Our interventional pain management specialists at LA Pain are accustomed to helping athletes, amateur sports enthusiasts, and others learn to prevent painful injury. They can also offer recommendations for treatment at any of our six convenient locations in Louisiana to get you back into the game quickly.
How did I develop shin splints?
Unfortunately, shin splints can be simply unlucky genetics due to conditions like flat feet, fallen arches, or a predisposition to developing shin splints. For others, the causes can include:
- Stress from repetitive use, as in running or jumping sports
- Failing to warm up or cool down when working out
- Poor-fitting, worn-out, or unsupportive footwear
- Weak ankle, hip, or leg muscles
Perhaps the most common cause is overuse and repetitiveness in sports. Playing too hard, too soon, or vastly increasing your training volume can result in shin splints that cause painful inflammation. Another cause for runners is training on rough terrain or hard surfaces.
How do I prevent shin splints?
You can often prevent the stress-related causes of shin splints. Reduce your risk of this painful injury by following these recommendations.
Warm up and cool down properly
Don’t skip warmup or cooldown exercises. These are essential to prepare your muscles, tendons, and tissues for increased work and blood flow, and easing down from periods of high intensity.
Our team at LA Pain can recommend some of these stretching exercises and even instruct you in their proper execution.
Start activity slowly
Start any activity or exercise slowly, increasing as you warm up and get accustomed to it. This is good advice if you’re new to the activity, are restarting after a period of hiatus, or seeking to increase your distance or intensity. Gradual increases help prevent shin splints.
Vary your running terrain
If you’re a runner, vary your training terrain with a good mix of track, soft trails, grass, and other surfaces to build up strength while easing the stress on your legs.
Build your leg muscles
By strengthening your calf muscles, you increase support for your shins and take some of the load off when exerting your legs, such as when running and jumping. We can recommend leg exercises for building up specific muscles.
Wear proper shoes
Athletes know the importance of using the proper gear, and this includes the best shoes for your sport or activity. We can recommend shoes with good support, including if you have flat feet or an uneven gait.
How can I treat shin splints?
When you experience pain at the front of your legs that indicate shin splints, apply RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) as soon as possible. Avoid any aggravating leg activity and allow time for your legs to heal.
As part of your RICE protocol, use a towel-wrapped ice pack for 15 minutes at a time, several times a day. Wear compression sleeves and elevate your legs for rest and reducing inflammation.
LA Pain has six Louisiana locations to serve you if you have leg pain from shin splints or other pain problems. Contact us to schedule your appointment today. Our offices are in Metairie, Laplace, Harvey, New Orleans, Hammond, and Luling.