If you've recently taken up running or increased the distance you're running and have pain along the front of your lower leg, you might have shin splints. This condition causes pain on the inside of the bone in your lower leg. It's caused by overuse, a gait abnormality, or tight muscles in the calf or ankle. The pain may come and go or it can be constant and severe. Here are a few treatments your podiatrist may suggest.
Apply Ice And Rest
Your podiatrist will rule out other causes of your pain. For instance, you may feel pain in that area because of a stress fracture or an injured tendon. If the pain is from shin splints, then first aid with an ice pack or a cold bandage to your lower leg may give you some relief. You can apply ice packs as often as necessary during the day as long as you are careful not to burn your skin.
The ice also helps reduce swelling that results from the injury. In addition, you may need to stop running until the area has healed and the pain has gone away. That doesn't mean you need to stay sedentary, as you can likely go swimming and do other types of exercise that do not impact your lower legs, ankles, and feet. Stretching exercises, in particular, may help since these relieve tightness in the calves and ankles.
Wear A Bandage Or Tape Your Shin
Your podiatrist may give you a compression bandage or sleeve to wear over your shin. In addition, he or she may show you how to apply tape to your lower leg to offer support to the area. You may need to wear these while you heal and when you begin exercising again so you can prevent another injury. The bandage can be placed in the freezer so it is cold for additional pain relief or it can be warmed to increase blood circulation to help speed healing.
Change Your Footwear
Your podiatrist may look into the type of footwear you had on at the time of your injury and make recommendations for the best type of shoes to wear for the activity you do. It's important to wear the appropriate running shoes so your ankles and feet are supported. Even if you have the right kind of shoes, you need to replace them a few times a year depending on how much running you do. Worn down shoes increase the risk of ankle rolling that leads to shin splints.
Wear Shoe Inserts
A gait analysis shows if your ankle rolls to the inside or outside when you walk or run. If you have one of these conditions, your podiatrist can make custom orthotics or shoe inserts for you to wear. These prevent your foot from rolling too far and they provide shock absorption that helps prevent injury to your ankles and shins as you walk and run.
Shin splints are painful and annoying. They interfere with your ability to train and exercise. Fortunately, they usually heal on their own as long as you eliminate the problem that caused them. Proper care ensures you can train safely and prevent more serious injuries to your lower legs, ankles, and feet.