I Get Shin Splints Every Time I Run; Can You Help?

I Get Shin Splints Every Time I Run; Can You Help?

If you’re a runner, you know running is a great stress reliever; it raises your level of endorphins and leaves you feeling good. Lately, though, you’ve been sidelined repeatedly. Your legs throb and burn from your knees down into the lower part of your leg. You’ve developed shin splints.

Our board-certified orthopedic surgeon and regenerative medicine/musculoskeletal physician at Urgently Ortho treat many patients with shin splints. We gradually get you back on track to engage in the activities you love.  

What’s happening to my leg when I get shin splints? 

If you have a shin splint, you feel plain along the edge of the large bone in your lower leg, your tibia, or shin bone. The area may also be swollen. The pain is a result of inflamed muscles, tendons, and/or connective tissue surrounding your tibia. You’ve put repeated stress on your shin bone, which has caused the inflammation.  

How are shin splints treated? 

We may take X-rays to make sure you don’t have a fracture or stress fracture. When shin splints are diagnosed, the first order of business is using the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Your leg needs “time off” to calm the inflammation.  

You can use a covered ice pack on the area several times a day for a few days. Wearing compression stockings or a bandage helps prevent further swelling. 

Over-the-counter pain relievers are fine for temporary use. You should discontinue them after a couple of weeks, as they have side effects. 

We examine your feet and your walking gait when you come in for your appointment. Flat feet, very low arches or very high arches can contribute to shin splints. We may prescribe custom orthotics to stabilize your gait and support your arches. We make a mold of your feet and send the mold to a lab that creates the orthotics. 

You’ll likely notice a positive change once you start wearing the orthotics inside your shoes. They help absorb the shock when your feet hit the pavement. 

We also can prescribe some physical therapy sessions. Your therapist can show you how to do stretches and flexibility exercises that strengthen the muscles and tendons around your tibia. 

When can I get back to my exercise routine? 

If you return to the field or dance floor too soon, you could reinjure yourself. You should be able to walk without pain for two weeks before re-engaging in your exercise routine. In addition, when you do start exercising again, you’ll need to start slowly. Start at a low intensity and very gradually work up to a higher level. Be sure to take breaks and rest.  

Tips to help prevent shin splints

Shin splints are an overuse injury. Following are tips on avoiding shin splints in the future.

Warm up 

Always stretch and warm up before engaging in vigorous exercise. Pay special attention to your calves and hamstrings. Tight muscles can lead to shin splints. 

Exercise on soft surfaces when possible

Concrete surfaces are hard on your legs and feet. Your bones and muscles have to absorb more force than when you exercise on softer surfaces like asphalt. 

Wear the proper footwear 

You may try to get extra mileage out of your running shoes to save money. That may backfire. Shin splints keep you out of the game for a while. Researchers recommend that runners replace shoes every 300 to 500 miles. If you’re a serious runner and are training for a marathon, you’ll likely need to replace your shoes every two to three months

Consider custom orthotics 

Have your feet and walking gait examined. We can prescribe custom orthotics for you that correct a faulty gait that can put too much pressure on certain parts of your feet. 

Call or message Urgently Ortho in Scottsdale, Arizona, if you’re having trouble with shin splints or any musculoskeletal injury. We’ll get you back on your feet safely.

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