Shin Splints.. Ugh!

If you’ve ever suffered from shin splints, you know how uncomfortable they can be. Fortunately for most of us, the discomfort and pain can be managed fairly easily.

Causes

Shin splints are caused by excessive force (overload) on the shinbone and the connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone. The overload is often caused by specific athletic activities, such as:

  • Running downhill
  • Running on a slanted or tilted surface
  • Running in worn-out footwear
  • Engaging in sports with frequent starts and stops, such as basketball and tennis

 


Shin splints can also be caused by training errors, such as engaging in a running program with the “terrible toos” — running too hard, too fast or for too long.

This is something I see repeatedly in the gym.  It’s not a bad problem to have, in that it usually stems from just too much enthusiasm about your new Gold’s membership, or your new workout routine. However, some individuals are more prone to shin splints, no matter what they do with their training.

You’re more at risk of shin splints if:

  • You’re a runner, especially just beginning a running program
  • You have flat feet or rigid arches, causing your feet to roll inward when running
  • You increase the intensity of your workouts by doing more high-impact activities
  • You play sports on hard surfaces, with sudden stops and starts
  • You’re in military training

 

Treatments

In most cases, you can treat shin splints with simple self-care steps:

Rest. But, you don’t have to give up all physical activity. This is the perfect time to try something new at the gym. If you need some suggestions, ask one of our awesome Gold’s Gym Trainers!

Ice the affected area. Apply ice packs to the affected shin for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times a day for several days. To protect your skin, wrap the ice packs in a thin towel.

Reduce swelling. Elevate the affected shin above the level of your heart, especially at night. It may also help to compress the area with an elastic bandage or compression sleeve. Loosen the wrap if the pain increases, the area becomes numb or swelling occurs below the wrapped area.

Wear proper shoes. Your doctor may recommend a shoe that’s especially suited for your foot type, your stride and your particular sport.

Consider arch supports.
Arch supports can help cushion and disperse stress on your shinbones. Off-the-shelf arch supports come in various sizes and can be fitted immediately. More durable arch supports can be custom-made from a plaster cast of your foot.

Resume your usual activities gradually. You’ll know if it’s too soon, if your pain comes right back. Patience, and willingness to adjust your workout routine can be the key.

Darcy West ACSM, Personal Trainer at Gold’s Gyms of Wenatchee 509.884.4965