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Shin Splints, Part 2

Last week, we opened the subject of Shin splints, a medical condition known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome. This week, we will explore methods of prevention and non-surgical treatment options for this injury.

 

Prevention

There are a number of measures an athlete can perform in order to help prevent shin splints:

  • Analyze form and movement. A professional analysis of the runner’s form and technique can help to identify movement patterns that can contribute to shin splints. In many cases, a slight change in running can help decrease risk.

  • Don’t overdo it. Too much running or other high-impact activity performed for too long at too high an intensity can overload the shins.

  • Wearing the right shoes. Runners should buy only quality footwear and replace them about every 350 to 500 miles.

  • Invest in arch supports. Arch supports can help prevent the pain of shin splints, especially if the patient has flat arches.

  • Wear shock-absorbing insoles. They might reduce shin splint symptoms and prevent recurrence.

  • Zero impact exercises. Cross-training with a sport that places less impact on the shins, such as swimming, walking or biking has proven very helpful for athletes to maintain their fitness while recovering from shin splints. Activities should be started slowly, with a gradual increase in time and intensity.

  • Strength training. Exercises to strengthen and stabilize the legs, ankles, hips and core are a good way to prepare the legs for high-impact sports.

Treatment

In most cases, shin splints can be treated with simple self-care steps:

  • Rest. The patient should avoid activities that cause pain, swelling or discomfort. While healing, low-impact exercises, such as swimming, bicycling or water running are recommended.

  • Ice. Apply ice packs to the affected shin for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times a day for several days. Ice packs can be wrapped in a thin towel to protect the skin.

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers. Try ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) to reduce pain.

  • Physical therapy. An orthopedic specialist or physical therapist can identify and treat issues in a patient’s back or legs or running mechanics that may be causing shin splints. A therapist can also help ease the pain and guide the return to regular sport activities.

Usual activities can be resumed gradually after the pain is gone.

If you are experiencing pain in your lower legs or shins, don’t wait for your family physician; visit Excel Rehabilitation Services on Burnside Ave. in Gonzales, Louisiana. You will receive personalized care from an experienced, professional physical therapist!

Online Sources:

http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00407

http://www.mayoclinic.org/search/search-results?q=shin%20splints

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/shin-splints#1

http://www.healthmds.org/legs/shin-splints/

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