Shin splints are one of the most common conditions that affect athletes of all ages and abilities, and it’s an issue we see quite frequently at our clinic. Shin splints are medically classified as medial stress syndrome, and it involves microfractures in the tibia oftentimes caused by overstress. While rest is an important part of helping the shin splint recover, there are some other active things you should be doing to help treat and prevent them. In today’s blog, our physical therapy team shares some tips for preventing and treating shin splints.
Shin Splint Treatment For Athletes
Prevention and treatment of shin splints follow a similar course of action, and the best way to treat the condition is to start it from developing in the first place. Here’s a look at some ways athletes can help to treat and prevent shin splint formation.
- Vary Your Exercise – Overstressing your lower body is the most common cause of shin splint development, and it’s easy to fall into the same training routines during the season. If you’re doing a lot of running for the soccer or basketball season, and then you’re going for a jog on your off days, your shins won’t get ample time to rest. It’s important to get your exercise in, but don’t always focus on lower body activities. Lift some weights or do some core exercises in your living room. Give your legs plenty of time to rest.
- Consult An Expert – If you need help developing a cross training program that protects your shins, or you’re currently dealing with recurrent discomfort form shin splints, consider reaching out to a physical therapist. Not only can we help treat the problem, but our individualized conditioning exercises will help to strengthen supportive structures to help take stress off the tibia so that shin splints are unlikely to return in the future. We can also give you sport-specific advice since many of our therapists were former athletes themselves and are aware of the physical expectations during certain athletics.
- Listen To Your Body – You know your body best, so if you’re starting to deal with soreness or pain in your shins, stop what you’re doing and give your body a break. Don’t keep pushing through your exercise routine or your four-mile run, because there’s a good chance you’ll only make the problem worse.
- Over-The-Counter Pain Meds – Over the counter pain medications can help with discomfort, but they shouldn’t be used to mask pain so that you can keep stressing your shins. They can be taken to make rest less painful or to help you get through some strength training exercises, but don’t rely on them to hide pain messages that your brain is trying to tell you about your activity levels.
- Get The Right Gear – Finally, it’s important that you have the right gear for the activity. Everyone’s feet are different, which means you need to be mindful of what type of shoes you’re wearing for activity. If you have high arches or flat feet, you may want to look into orthotic inserts or specifically-designed cleats to help ensure pressure is distributed as expected to help protect the foot and shin. A PT can help look at your foot and explain what you should look for in athletic gear.
For more information, or for help overcoming your shin splints, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.