If you are an avid walker, have begun a new exercise program, or are an experienced runner, you may have experienced one of the most common lower extremity ailments, shin splints. Shin splints are characterized as pain at the front inside area of the shin bone due to overexertion of the muscles. Shin splints usually involve small tears in the leg muscles where they are attached to the shin bone. The most common cause of shin splints is inflammation of the periostium of the tibia (sheath surrounding the bones). Some other common causes include flat feet (overpronation), a high arch (underpronation), inadequate footwear, running on hard surfaces, and increasing training too quickly. Use the following tips to treat and prevent shin splints:
- For immediate pain relief:
- ice the area to reduce pain and inflammation;
- take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory (e.g., ibuprofen); and
- rest to allow the injury to heal.
- Stretch and strengthen the leg muscles
- Wear insoles or orthotics that offer arch support
- Make sure you have the right running shoe for your foot type and for the activity
- Avoid running on hard surfaces
- Shorten your stride
Consult a podiatrist if your pain is really bad. You should get a full diagnosis to find out if there is a stress fracture in the area.