If you’re a runner or your workouts tend to include a lot of high-impact movement, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced inflammation in your lower legs, otherwise known as shin splints, at one point or another. Beyond being a real pain in the… well, shins, shin splints can also make exercise difficult and lead to stress fractures if not treated properly. Read on to learn more about what causes shin splints and how to take care of your legs when you’ve got them.
What are Shin Splints?
Shin splints can include pain, soreness, or mild swelling in the lower legs along the inner edge of the shinbone and are most commonly experienced by high-impact athletes like runners and dancers. While they can present at any time, shin splints usually arise as a result of sudden increases in physical activity. Other causes can include improper footwear or poor running form.
The most effective way to prevent shin splints involves a combination of wearing proper footwear with adequate arch support and increasing the intensity and duration of your activities gradually to allow your muscles time to adapt. Practice exercises like wall shin raises to strengthen the lower legs, making sure to warm up before workouts and cool down afterward to reduce stress on your shins.
Caring for Shin Splints
For existing shin splints, it’s crucial to prioritize rest to allow your muscles time to recover. Ice the affected area for up to 20 minutes a few times a day to reduce inflammation, and try using compression sleeves for support. For more serious pain, talk to your doctor or physical therapist to make sure your shin splints haven’t caused a stress fracture.