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Mitchell Wachtel D.P.M.

Avoiding Shin Splints

Shin splints are a condition that plague athletic people, specifically people who engage in running and dancing. If you have recently increased your exercise intensity or have changed something else (where you run, your shoes, etc.) you may find yourself suffering from pain in your shins. Make sure you get the help you need so you don’t have to stay off your feet for long.

What Are Shin Splints?

This is a very common condition in athletes, especially those who run and jump a lot. The higher the impact, the more likely you will put enough strain on your legs and feet to develop this condition. The pain is usually worse on the inner edge of the shin. You may feel pain both during and after exercise.

Having flat feet is another risk factor because you are naturally putting more weight on your feet than someone with a normal foot type. Your footwear also plays a role. You might notice swelling in your feet and legs. Many people describe a sharp or throbbing pain that gets better with rest and worse with exercise. 

How Do You Treat This Condition?

This is a common condition, so chances are you will find yourself a victim at some point. Always get treatment, whether you do it at home or go to a podiatrist. Don’t try to push through the pain. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to rest your body so it can heal. During this time you can also apply ice, elevate your feet, and use a compression stocking for swelling.

If this doesn’t work, you should take a look at your shoes and make sure they don’t need to be replaced. You can add a shoe insert or orthotic more for cushion and support. Leg stretches can be beneficial for easing pain and for preventing a future occurrence. In extreme cases you may need to undergo surgery to fix an underlying problem. Don’t rush too quickly back to jogging. Try cross training for a while and gradually build up the intensity.

Avoiding Them in the First Place

Running starts with your footwear. If you have shoes that have lost their padding and support, you should think about replacing them. If you are a light runner you can get about 500 miles out of a pair of shoes. A heavier runner can only get half of that, so plan accordingly. Orthotics are another way to get extra padding and support where you need it.

Listen to your body. If you feel any pain or discomfort, stop and go back to something that you can handle. Sometimes people forget to warm up their muscles first, but running on cold muscles is very dangerous. Always engage in at least a two to five minute warm up before you get to the actual workout. Again, cross training is a good idea for many people because it helps your feet get some rest while you are still getting physical activity. Swimming or cycling are great for this.

Getting a Podiatrist’s Help

For more information on treating and preventing shin splints call Mitchell Wachtel, podiatrist North Andover, at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment in our Haverhill, MA, office.