Athletes tend to be very familiar with aches and pains. Sore muscles and minor injuries come with being active and pushing your body. Usually the pain disappears within a few days as your tissues quickly rest up and repair minor damage. When the discomfort continues for a longer period of time, or feels worse whenever you’re active, however, it’s not the typical soreness. It’s a sign of actual damage that needs to be addressed. That is the case with an athlete’s not-so-favorite training partner: shin splints.
Sidelined by Shins
A highly common overuse injury, especially for runners, shin splints are the painful inflammation of the tissues along the inside of the shin. The muscles, tendons, and sometimes even the bone tissues become irritated and swollen, causing you pain whenever you participate in activities that strain them. This can occur any time the shins become overworked—usually from a sudden increase in activity without proper conditioning, but also from worn out footwear or biomechanical problems like overpronation. Running up or downhill, on an uneven surface, or in old or poorly fitted shoes are some of the most common inciting factors for inflamed shins, though activities with a lot of sudden starts, stops, and direction changes can also stress the lower legs. Shin splints do not get better on their own without changing your routine to accommodate them. Since overuse caused the problem, any time you continue to strain your shins by exercising, the issue compounds. You need intentional intervention to allow your legs to heal.
Time Out, but Not Game Over
You will need to have your lower legs examined to be sure you don’t have stress fractures or other conditions that cause similar pain. Dr. Robert Parker will thoroughly examine your feet, ankles, and shins to evaluate the injury. He may also request diagnostic images to get a more accurate picture of the potential damage. He can then check for any biomechanical problems or preexisting conditions that could be contributing to your discomfort. Once the problem has been diagnosed and the factors identified, you can begin a course toward healing.
You will need to reduce the swelling and inflammation in your shins and give them time to heal. Resting is the most important step you can take to restore your lower legs. Decreasing the strain on the irritated tissues will give them a chance to relax and recover. Icing the area regularly will also help relieve the inflammation and eliminate some of the pain. Wraps or compression socks discourage swelling and may be helpful as well.
If you have any preexisting condition that strains the feet and lower legs and may have contributed to the problem, you’ll need to take care of that to be able to reduce the stress on your lower legs. You’ll need to make sure you shoes fit well and correctly support your biomechanical needs, too—and replace shoes that are too worn. Orthotics may be helpful for providing that extra stabilization you need to avoid straining your shins. Once your legs have recovered enough to return to your activities, you’ll need to take it slowly and condition your body to handle the strain so that you don’t immediately reinjure your lower limbs.
If you’re having a hard time participating in the activities you love because of uncomfortable shins, don’t continue pushing through the pain and hoping you’ll feel better next time. Avoiding treatment simply adds to the issue and may increase the time it takes to heal. Instead, seek help from Parker Foot & Ankle in Houston and get back to doing what you love without the discomfort. Call (281) 497-2850 or visit the website contact page for more information or an appointment.