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Essential Training Tips If You're Prone to Shin Splints

Shin splints: two words that can strike fear into the heart of any athlete. Whether you’re a runner or you play team sports, the throbbing pain along the front of your lower leg can disrupt training and interfere with your performance.

It’s a frustrating condition, but you don’t have to let it get in the way of your goals. In fact, a few tweaks to your training program can help you stay pain-free. Lisa Burson, DPM, and Joe Aoun, DPM, specialize in sports medicine at The Foot & Ankle Specialists, and we’re here to help. Here’s what you should know if you’re prone to shin splints.

All about shin splints

Medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) is the medical term for shin splints. It refers to inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and other tissues around your tibia – the large bone at the front of your lower leg.

The main cause of shin splints is overuse, and it’s exacerbated by factors like biomechanical imbalances, improper footwear, sudden changes in training intensity or duration, or inadequate recovery periods between your workouts.

Shin splints are a common complaint among athletes who spend a lot of time running, jumping, and playing high-impact sports. Flat feet or high arches can also make you more susceptible to shin splints, because your foot mechanics can put extra stress on your lower legs.

Prevention is key when you’re prone to shin splints

If you’ve experienced shin splints, you know the pain can quickly get in the way of your workouts. The good news is that a few training tips can make a big difference.

Our team at The Foot & Ankle Specialists specializes in sports medicine, and we’re here to help you design a training program that promotes whole-body health. Preventing shin splints starts with a comprehensive approach, and here are some essential tips:

Always warm up and cool down

Focus on dynamic stretches and exercises during your warm-ups to prepare your muscles and joints for activity. When you’re done exercising, cool down with gentle static stretching to promote recovery and prevent tightness.

Increase training gradually

If your goal is to boost your performance, avoid the temptation to ramp up your workouts too quickly. Take time to gradually increase the duration, intensity, and frequency of your workouts to allow your muscles and bones to adapt gradually.

Wear the right shoes

Cushioning, arch support, and stability are essential for athletes. Invest in high-quality athletic shoes that are right for your sport, and replace worn-out shoes regularly to avoid poor shock absorption and biomechanical issues.

Try cross-training

No matter your sport, cross-training helps build strength and flexibility. Consider incorporating low-impact activities like swimming, cycling, and strength training into your routine to reduce the repetitive stress on your lower legs while maintaining your overall fitness.

Listen to your body

Most importantly, remember to listen to your body. Pay attention to any signs of discomfort or pain during exercise, because shin splints typically don’t go away on their own. If you experience persistent shin pain, decrease your training intensity or take a break.

When to pursue professional help for shin splints

If you’re still dealing with shin splints after overhauling your training program, it’s time to get a professional evaluation. Shin splints are often manageable with rest and conservative measures, but persistent or severe pain may indicate an underlying issue.

We recommend scheduling an appointment if you experience:

We can do a comprehensive evaluation to assess your biomechanics, gait patterns, and footwear choices to identify contributing factors and develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your needs. Depending on your diagnosis, we may recommend orthotics, physical therapy, activity modifications, or a combination of treatments to manage your discomfort.

Shin splints may be a common problem, but they don't have to derail your progress. We’re ready to help you create a proactive plan to avoid the pain and keep striving toward your goals. Call our offices in Bay City, Caro, and Lapeer, Michigan, or request your first appointment online today.

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