Identifying and Dealing with Shin Splints

February 2, 2018 in STSMPT

Shin splints refer to lower leg pain that occurs below the knee. It can occur either outside or inside that part of the leg. This pain often springs up in runners, athletes, and dancers. It is often the result of doing too much too quickly when adopting a new training regimen, but it could also be a result of repetitive stress. Below are some ways to help speed recovery as well as a guide to differentiating a shin splint from a stress fracture.

Most of the time, shin splints will heal on their own and won’t require medical treatment. However, lower leg pain doesn’t always signal shin splints. It’s quite possible that a stress fracture has occurred, which would need medical attention. One easy way to tell the difference is to run your fingers along the leg. If you find a definitive spot of sharp pain, that’s likely sign of a stress fracture. Shin splints tend to have pain over a more generalized area. Another way to tell is if the pain is worse in the morning. Stress fractures tend to feel better in the morning whereas shin splints tend to feel worse.

If you have a shin splint, it’s best to either stop engaging in the activity that led to it completely or at least decrease the time spent doing it. Put ice on the area to reduce inflammation. Engage in a different exercise while the injury is healing. There are also certain stretches and exercises one can try to help strengthen the area. Once the leg begins to feel better, slowly ease your way back into the activity. Pay close attention during the activity for signs of pain, and assess what you are doing. Changing your habits while doing the activity can prevent recurrence of the injury.

If you, or someone you know, is recovering from an injury, remember that we are here to help. We can meet with you and plan a recovery program based on your individual needs and situation.

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