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Working Your Way Through Shin Splints

Occurring in the front of the outer leg, shin splints result from inflammation to the posterior tibial tendon and related tissues. They commonly happen to runners or those who walk vigorously. Symptoms include pain in the front of the outer leg below the knee, ranging from dull discomfort to significant pain that increases with activity.

For some people, shin splints occur when they transition from the soft grass of the warmer months to harder indoor surfaces during autumn and winter, increase their usual pace or add distance. The resulting inflammation triggers the pain associated with shin splints.
One treatment for shin splints counsels total rest, but this is frustrating, particularly for athletes. Another approach involves continuing activity and treating the inflammation.

Physical therapy often uses a multifaceted approach. This includes rest to restore a person to pain-free functioning, followed by exercise and lifestyle changes, such as

running on a treadmill at a low speed and on a level plane

• reducing your usual running distance

• participating in an activity, such as cycling, that does not stress the affected area but maintains cardiovascular fitness

• choosing and wearing the proper footwear

• taking anti-inflammatory medications prescribed by your physician (e.g., ibuprofen or naproxen)

• icing to reduce inflammation

• taping or arch supports to relieve pain

• engaging in stretching and strengthening exercises

Because shin splints can occur when you change your workout or transition to a different running surface, the best approach is prevention, which means talking to us before making changes.

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