In our hurry-up world, sometimes it pays to take your time. Take exercise, for example. You may want to rush toward your goal of preparing for that big race, but increasing your distance or the intensity of your workouts too quickly could mean missing the big day entirely because of shin splints. This painful condition is common for runners, dancers and new military recruits, who are suddenly forced to test their bodies beyond what they can take.
Splints: a Strange Name for Pain
Most people don’t know how pain in your shins became known as “splints,” but there is no confusion about how limiting this condition can be. When the front part of your leg hurts, activities like running, jumping, dancing, or climbing can be impossible to bear. In reality, you shouldn’t try to tough it out, because that will only make the problem worse. Shin pain indicates some type of damage—your muscles and tendons are overworked, or tiny stress fractures have formed in your bone. Unless you let that damage heal, you will end up with a chronic condition that hampers your lifestyle.
How to Know if You Have Shin Splints
The pain part will be easy to figure out! What’s causing it may be a bit more difficult. It could be from irritated and swollen muscles, specifically the ones attached to the main long bone in your calf—the tibia. It could also be caused by a damaged tendon in that area. If you experience repetitive stress on the tibia from striking the ground while running, marching, or landing jumps, small cracks can form in the bone. Whatever the cause, you will feel pain in the front of your leg along the inner edge of the bone, and the area may be swollen.
How to Treat Shin Splints
The first thing is to take a rest from the activity that brings on the pain. If your shins hurt when you run, try swimming or biking instead, or rest completely for a few days. During that time, apply ice packs to the area for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day, to reduce swelling and dull the pain. The second thing is to make a visit to Aadvanced Foot Care Associates in New York for an evaluation. We can determine what exactly is causing your pain, using imaging tests if necessary to rule out a more serious fracture.
We may recommend just the icing and pain relievers, but if they don’t handle the discomfort, we will look more deeply into the underlying causes of your problem. It may be something as simple as the wrong kind of shoes for your activity. We can guide you toward the type with the correct support and cushioning for your specific foot structure and activity. You may have structural risks like flat feet or high arches that are aggravating the problem. Custom orthotics can often help in such situations. Even advising you about strengthening exercises, warming up and stretching techniques, or what surfaces to train on may help reduce your pain.
Dr. Hal Abrahamson and Dr. Daniel E. Orozco are experts who specialize in sports medicine and biomechanical problems, and together we have over 40 years of foot care experience. When you trust your foot problems to our care, you can be sure that great treatment, using the latest techniques, will speed your healing time. Don’t work through the pain; call Aadvanced Foot Care Associates today at our offices in Flushing at (718) 969-2266, Plainview at (516) 822-9595, or Rego Park, NY at (718) 896-4433.