Last week, we discussed how shin splints are commonly treated after diagnosis. This week, we will conclude our examination with methods of prevention.
Sometimes, prevention is the best medicine for those things that ail us.
There are things you can do to prevent shin splints.
Wear a proper fitting athletic shoe. To get the right fit, determine the shape of your foot using the “wet test.” Step out of the shower onto a surface that will show your footprint, like a brown paper bag. If you have a flat foot, you will see an impression of your whole foot on the paper. If you have a high arch, you will only see the ball and heel of your foot. When shopping, look for athletic shoes that match your particular foot pattern. In addition, make sure you wear shoes designed for your sport. Running long distances in court-type sneakers can contribute to shin splints.
Slowly build your fitness level. Increase the duration, intensity, and frequency of your exercise regimen gradually.
Cross train. Alternate jogging with lower impact sports like swimming or cycling.
Barefoot running. In recent years, barefoot running has gained in popularity. Many people claim it has helped to resolve shin splints. Some research indicates that barefoot running spreads out impact stresses among muscles, so that no area is overloaded. However, there is no clear evidence that barefoot running reduces the risk for any injury.
Like any significant change in your fitness regimen, a barefoot running program should be started very gradually. Begin with short distances to give your muscles and your feet time to adjust. Pushing too far, too fast can put you at risk for stress injuries. In addition, barefoot runners are at increased risk for cuts and bruises on their feet. Several brands of minimalist shoes with “toes” are available and these also require a slow working in period as your body adjusts to this different activity.
If your shin splints do not improve after rest and other methods described above, be sure to see a doctor to determine whether something else is causing your leg pain.
In conclusion: Simple measures can help prevent shin splints, but if you get them anyway, you can relieve the pain with rest, ice, and stretching. Taking care not to overdo your exercise routine will help prevent shin splints from coming back.
If you are experiencing shin pain after exercise, don’t delay; go see the professionals at Excel Rehabilitation Services on Burnside Ave. in Gonzales, Louisiana where you will receive one-on-one care from an experienced physical therapist!