Whether you’re a runner, an athlete or just want to regularly exercise, you might experience pain in your legs. If you have felt sharp pains in your lower extremities, then you may suffer from shin splints. And while it is a common complaint, shin splints shouldn’t go ignored.

What are the Causes of Shin Splints?

Shin splints typically occur from repeated pounding on hard surfaces during activities such as running, basketball or tennis. You can also get them when you change to your running or workout shoes. They can even occur when you wear your shoes too long and they become worn out. When transitioning from a trail to concrete or asphalt while running or walking, you may develop shin splints. Working out harder than usual or by training too hard without gradually working up to a training level can also cause shin splints.

What are the Symptoms of Shin Splints?

Pain on the front lower part of the leg is a common complaint of people who have shin splints and some may even have swelling as well. When you first notice the pain, it may just be at the start of your workout and feel like a dull ache or soreness. If left untreated, the pain can become sharper and last until you stop exercising. In some severe cases, the pain can continue even after you finish your workout.

Shin splints usually involve small tears in the leg muscles where they are attached to the shinbone. There are two types of shin splints: anterior and posterior shin splints. The pain usually develops gradually without a history of trauma and might begin as a dull ache or pain along the front or inside of the shin after running or even walking. Pain can become more intense if not addressed immediately and can put you at an increased risk of developing stress fractures.

Treatment and Prevention of Shin Splints

Treatments for shin splints should include taking a break from exercise that is causing the problem until the pain subsides. Icing the area immediately after running or exercising can also be effective in addition to gentle stretching before and after training. Another option is to take aspirin or ibuprofen to relieve the pain and reduce inflammation.

The best way to prevent shin splints is to stretch before you run or exercise. By stretching, you are warming up and strengthening your muscles. Also, wear footwear that has good shock absorption and avoid running on hard surfaces or perform excessive running or jumping on the ball of the foot.

Make sure you don’t train through the pain of shin splints because it could cause further damage. If you are experiencing pain, it is important to seek the consultation of your podiatrist at the first on sight of shin splints or potential shin splints.