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Prevent and Treat Shin Splints

Prevent and Treat Shin Splints

You’ve probably heard that dancers often suffer from shin splints. But did you know runners, and tennis, soccer and basketball players are also at high risk? The good news is that it only takes 15 minutes to avoid the pain of shin splints.

Shin splints—medial tibial stress syndrome—are caused by micro-abrasions along the lower leg bones (tibia) and the fibrous connective tissue (periosteum) that covers them. The periosteum has attachment sites for muscles, ligaments and tendons. When the periosteum gets inflamed, shin splints occur.

This can happen if you workout without warming up, or if you use worn out shoes—runners, change shoes every 300-500 miles. If your foot turns in or out (pronates) when you walk that can also damage your shin. And being overweight is a major risk factor. But this repetitive use syndrome is often avoidable—and there are remedies.

Prevention: If your gait is off, see a podiatrist and a physical therapist for orthosis and exercises to reduce stress on your lower leg. Running or walking? Wear supportive, cushioned sports shoes. Take time to warm up—whether you start out running slowly or stretch before you walk.

Treatment: Try some R.I.C.E:

  • Rest—take it easy for at least a week.
  • Ice— 3-4x daily for 20 minutes.
  • Compress—with an elastic bandage.
  • Elevate—frequently. If you’re overweight, lose weight using portion control and by avoiding the five food felons.

With these changes to your lifestyle you can reduce the pressure each step puts on your leg by a whopping 40 pounds, lowering your risk of developing injuries such as shin splints.

Medically reviewed in March 2019.

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