When individuals begin a running program, the goal is usually to improve their health. Running is an exceptional form of exercise to achieve this objective, as it can help you maintain a healthy bodyweight, improve cardiovascular performance, and build bone and muscle strength.
There are a host of other benefits as well, but it is important to note that any physical activity always comes with an inherent risk of injury. For runners, a common injury is shin splints, but they are easily treated and, even better, our Medford, OR podiatry practice has prevention tips that can help!
Shin Splint Causes and Symptoms
Medically known as “tibial stress syndrome,” this is a fairly common condition. Pain is the major symptom and it typically develops along the tibia – the larger of the two lower leg bones. This particular bone is responsible for supporting most of a person’s bodyweight and is an essential part of both the ankle and knee joints.
When faced with repetitive forces, the tibia and its corresponding tendons and muscles become overworked. Specifically, the injury is more likely to develop when levels of intensity and/or duration are suddenly increased. Some individuals with increased risk include:
- Military recruits
- Those whose arches are either high (cavus foot) or low (flatfoot)
- Runners (especially new runners)
- Athletes who participate in sports played on hard surfaces that feature sudden starts and stops
As noted, pain is the primary symptom. This tends to be sharp (as opposed to a dull ache) and often accompanies physical activity, like running. Tenderness and/or soreness along the lower, inner part of your leg tends to be rather common. You also may have swelling in the same area.
It is important to mention that the pain might stop once physical activity has ceased, but this does not mean the condition has healed. Left untreated, the condition can be come continuous, and you will likely need professional care from our office at that point.
Shin Splint Treatment
Generally speaking, most cases of tibial stress syndrome are effectively treated with at-home care, including the following steps:
- Rest. Time away from activities that aggravate an affected shin can help, but you can still use low-impact exercises like swimming, bicycling, and water running.
- Ice. Alleviate pain and swelling by applying ice to affected shin four to eight times throughout the day (15 to 20 minutes each time). Have the ice or ice packs wrapped in a thin towel to protect your skin.
- Pain medication. Over-the-counter medications can relieve pain, but check with our office for appropriate dosage recommendations.
The best way to “treat” shin splints is to take measures to avoid the condition in the first place. The good news is that steps taken to avoid this injury are simple and include:
- Wearing proper footwear. Make sure that shoes are appropriate for the activity and fit correctly. Also, replace running shoes when they show signs of wear with a new pair.
- Use arch supports. The over-the-counter inserts found at the store might be sufficient for keeping shin splints at bay, but our office also provides custom orthotics that can help.
- Cross-train. Incorporate low-impact activities into any workout routine to avoid overworking the tissues in the lower legs and subjecting them to intense force loads. Walking, water sports, and cycling help maintain physical conditioning while keeping shins pain-free.
- Strength training. Stronger calf muscles can absorb greater amounts of force and reduce the risk of tibial stress syndrome.
Professional Shin Splint Care in Medford, OR
At-home care is often rather effective at resolving shin pain, but our professionals here at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. are ready to help when you need professional care. We are based in Medford, OR and treat lower limb injuries for many patients from across the surrounding communities. If you are suffering with any foot or ankle issue that causes pain or impairs your ability to perform favorite tasks, give us a call at (541) 776-3338 and we will be glad to provide additional information.