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When shin splints have you sidelined

Last Modified: 5/22/2018

Most long-distance walkers and runners have experienced the shooting pain of shin splints at some point in their athletic journey. With race and training season warming up, we asked Meagan Jones, certified athletic trainer, Parkview Sports Medicine, to share more on this painful condition.

As the weather changes, everyone is excited to get outside and start exercising. One of the biggest and most common complaints we hear from new runners is that they are experiencing shin splints. This condition, also known as “medial tibial stress syndrome” is an injury to the lower leg caused by microtearing. There are several contributing factors, such as overtraining, improper support or fit with running shoes, and a lack of flexibility and strength in the leg muscles.

Does the shoe fit?
A faulty fit with your running shoes can be a main cause of shin splints. Consult an expert when buying running shoes to make sure they are the right ones for you. A trained professional can help assess your gait and take you through the smartest options.

If properly fitting shoes don’t alleviate the pain, there are several things you can try at home. The R.I.C.E. method refers to Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. Resting might also include cross training that may put less stress on your lower legs. This would be a great time to try swimming or cycling! You should ice your lower legs after a run for 15-20 minutes at a time. Compressing your lower legs with an ace wrap may also help alleviate pain. Finally, coming home and literally “kicking your feet up” by elevating your lower legs can also help reduce pain.

If you have tried all these methods and are still having trouble, it may be time to explore other causes. Your doctor might order some tests to make sure you haven’t developed a stress fracture, and they will let you know if it is safe to continue running. 

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