If you’re a runner or speed walker, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced the pain in your lower legs associated with one of the most common overuse injuries: shin splints. Most will feel discomfort and tenderness as a result—sometimes becoming extreme and debilitating—but what actually are they? According to the orthopedic doctors and surgeons at Honolulu, HI’s, IMUA Orthopedics, Sports & Health, shin splits refers to a category of inflammation in posterior and anterior muscles and tendons in the lower legs or around the shin bone.
So what are some ways to prevent this condition?
- Be Mindful of Surfaces: Shin splints occur when runners transition from working out on softer surfaces (like a track) to harder ones (pavement). If you’re making this transition, go easier at first to minimize stress and impact.
- Biomechanics: The mechanics of running motion can also cause shin splints. Longer stride length, for example, will cause anterior muscles and tendons to overextend, leading to inflammation.
- Footwear: Worn out, old footwear can contribute to the development of shin splints; choose a pair that has adequate padding and is well suited to your needs.
And what does treatment look like?
- Assessment: You should seek professional care if you’re experiencing this issue, as it will rule out other conditions like bruised bones.
- Time is Medicine: The only real way to recover from shin splints is to allow the muscles and tendons to heal, which can take several weeks or even months. You should stop running during this time.
- Low Impact Workouts: Instead of jogging, try workouts that are easier on the legs and feet like stationary cycling, elliptical regimens or pool running.
- Icing: Stimulate blood flow to the affected area by icing it regularly and using anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling.
At the core of it, you’ll need to figure out what is causing the shin splints, and this is where consultation with an orthopedist can help. The team at IMUA Orthopedics, Sports & Health will fully assess your situation and help you achieve full recovery. To learn more about this orthopedic and sports medicine practice, check out its website or call them at (808) 521-5682.