Tips for Runners Who Want to Avoid Shin Splints

Shin splints, medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome, is a cumulative stress disorder. Usually associated with running or other strenuous physical activity, the disorder comes from repeated stress on the bones, muscles, and tendons of the lower legs and the pounding that prevents the body from being able to heal itself.

The term “shin splints” describes the pain you feel along the inner part of your lower leg, at the shin bone or tibia, where the muscles connect to the bone. The pain comes from inflammation in the tissues between your knee and ankle.

At Quantum Foot and Ankle Group, PC in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, podiatrist J. Adrian Wright, DPM, MS, provides onsite diagnostic testing and customizes treatment plans for his patients who suffer from shin splints. In this blog, he explains what causes the condition, how it can be treated, and how you can keep it from happening.

Causes of shin splints

Shin splints result when repetitive and excessive force causes the muscles in the lower leg to swell, increasing the pressure against the bone and leading to pain and inflammation. The condition can also be caused by stress fractures in the tibia bone. The body can repair these tiny cracks if given time to rest. If not, the cracks can widen into a complete bone fracture.

Shin splints occur most often when the leg muscles and tendons are tired. Those who are most susceptible to developing shin splints are the following:

Diagnosing shin splints

Diagnosing shin splints accurately is very important, as there are other conditions — such as stress fractures, tendinitis, and chronic exertional compartment syndrome —  which can cause shin pain.

Dr. Wright will discuss your symptoms and take a medical history. He’ll also examine your lower leg, and he may order X-rays or a CT or MRI scan to rule out any other problem and cement his diagnosis. MRIs, for example, are good at showing stress fractures in the bone and cases of tendinitis, both of which are treated differently than shin splints.

Treating shin splints

By far the best treatment for shin splints is rest — preferably about two weeks for a full recovery. You can, during this time, do other exercises that don’t put much stress on your legs, such as swimming, biking, or using an elliptical.

Other common treatments include:

Tips to avoid shin splints

These tips can benefit anyone prone to getting shin splints, but they’re especially helpful for runners.

If you develop severe muscle pain or other physical symptoms while exercising, stop and rest. If you continue to experience symptoms after a couple of days, come in to see Dr. Wright.

If you fall in the high-risk category for shin splints, or if you’re a weekend warrior who wants to prevent shin splints from happening, Quantum Foot and Ankle Group, PC has you covered. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone today.

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