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Dealing with shin splints

Shin splints are pain that can be felt along the front area of the lower leg or shin bone between the knee and the ankle. It affects people performing strenuous physical activities or playing sports such as racquetball, tennis, soccer or basketball.

Shin splints is a cumulative stress disorder where there is a repeated pounding and stress placed on the muscles, bones and joints of the lower legs and prevents the body from can repair and restoring itself.

Causes of shin splints

  • Excessive amount of force placed on the shin bone and the tissues that are connected to the shin bone and to the surrounding muscles. The excessive force will result to swelling of the muscles and increased pressure on the bones and cause inflammation and pain.
  • Stress reactions to fracture of bones such as constant pounding can result to minute cracks in the bones of leg.
    shin splints

    A dull ache can be felt in the front area of the lower leg.

Symptoms

  • Muscle pain
  • A dull ache can be felt in the front area of the lower leg
  • Pain due to performing exercises
  • Tenderness or soreness in the inner area of the lower leg
  • Mild swelling of the lower leg
  • Pain in either side of the shin bone
  • Numbness and weakness in the affected area
  • Pain in the inner area of the lower leg

Treatment

  • Take plenty of rest for fast healing of the condition. Avoid performing activities such as sprinting, walking or running too quickly while still in the healing period. Perform gentle exercises during healing such as swimming or biking.
  • Elevate the affected legs above the level of the heart to lessen the swelling.
  • Apply ice on the affected area for at least 20 minutes to lessen the pain and the inflammation. Fill a plastic bag with ice cubes, seal it and then wrap it using a towel or a thin cloth before placing to the area. Avoid ice directly on the skin to prevent ice burn and worsen the condition.
  • Take the prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen, ibuprofen and aspirin to relieve the pain and lessen the inflammation.
  • Wear an elastic compression bandage to lessen the swelling and the pain. Avoid wrapping it too tight to prevent problems with blood circulation and worsen the condition.
  • Massage the shins using a foam roller.

Tips

  • Replace worn out shoes, wear shoes that provides cushioning such as shock-absorbing insoles and lessen the stress on the shin.
  • Avoid performing activities such as running on pavements or concrete surfaces to prevent further injury on the affected area. Run on dirt paths or grass. If there is a need to run on the road, mix the activity with swimming, biking and other cross training exercises
  • Warming up before performing any activities such as sprinting, running or playing sports such as basketball and soccer. Perform stretching properly.

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