Given that the city of Cincinnati has enough running trails so you can run on a different one every single day for over a month, it’s no surprise that we have a vibrant running community. Running is a fantastic exercise and the men and women who take to the trails in our communities do so for fitness, but, unfortunately, any physical activity comes with an inherent risk of injury. For runners, a common example of this is shin splints. This lower leg injury causes pain, swelling, and tenderness, but the good news is that conservative shin splint treatment is usually quite effective.
Here at Family Foot & Ankle Center, we can diagnose the source of your pain and provide a recommended treatment plan, but the simple truth of the matter is that most cases of shin splints are easily treated with basic self-care measures, including:
- Medication. Be sure to contact us for appropriate dosage information first, but acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium can all be used to reduce pain and swelling in affected shins.
- Ice. Icing a painful shin splint is a good way to relieve pain and swelling. Wrap ice or an ice pack in a thin towel and then apply to your shin between 4-8 times a day for several days. Make sure you keep the wrapped ice on the shin for about 15-20 minutes each session for optimal results.
- Rest. Taking time away from physical activities—especially high-impact ones—that can cause discomfort, swelling, or pain in your lower legs will give your body time to properly address the injury in a natural manner. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to give up all activities. Low-impact ones, like bicycling, swimming, and water running can help you keep in shape while your shins strengthen and heal.
Shin splints can obviously keep you from exercising and participating in your favorite physical activities, so it’s best to prevent them from developing in the first place. There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of this common injury so you can stay active. Some of the best tips for preventing shin splints include:
- Choose the right footwear. This means picking shoes appropriate for the sport or physical activity you perform. In addition to having the right kinds of shoes (that fit well!), be sure to replace your footwear when they become worn out to help lower your risk of developing shin splints.
- Cross-train. Shin splints are caused by forces from high-impact activities. Bicycling, yoga, and swimming all place lower amounts of force loads on your lower limbs, while still giving you a good workout and improving your overall levels of fitness.
- Perform strength training. You don’t need to spend hours every day pumping iron like an Olympic weightlifter – you can benefit from performing simple calf raises and leg presses to strengthen your leg muscles (and bones) and keep shin splints away!
- Use arch supports. We may recommend arch supports or orthotics to ensure that your feet are using the most biomechanically efficient process, which thereby relieves stress on the muscles and bones in your lower legs. If you have low foot arches, you may find this to be especially beneficial.
It’s important to keep in mind the fact that the best injury prevention methods in the world are unable to eliminate 100% of the risk for physical injury. Fortunately, the injury treatment you need will typically be nonsurgical in nature and we can create an effective plan for you here at Family Foot & Ankle Center.We’ve covered options to relieve pain and get back to your running routine on your own, but a severe case might need professional shin splint treatment. If you’re having problems addressing the issue on your own, or if you want additional information, simply give us a call at (888) 689-3317. If you’d prefer, you can also contact us online today and we’ll be glad to help!