If you’ve ever felt the burn of pins and needles when using your leg muscles, then shin splints might be to blame. The condition can come from a variety causes like repetitive exercise or overloading yourself with too much activity for one day.

Runners, dancers, people who regularly work on hard or rough surfaces, and anyone who engages in activities with a lot of starts and stops are prone to shin splints. Having this condition can be a painful experience, but over-the-counter medications, such as Motrin or aspirin, can help manage the discomfort.

Signs That You Have Shin Splints

A dull ache or sharp pain in your shins are the most common symptoms.

Pain when you use your lower legs to walk or push against the floor to rise from a chair are also typical signs. Your shin pain will get worse during and just after exercise. However, leg discomfort decreases with rest.

Common Causes of Shin Splints

Rigid Arches
This condition can cause a fallen-forward posture while walking if your shoes provide no support to help your feet maintain balance or lack cushioning from hard surfaces (such as sidewalks).

Flat footedness
This problem can lead to shin splints if your shoes lack proper arch height. Flat footedness can increase leg pain if more weight rests upon the shins than areas closer to the ankle joint. To prevent yourself from developing painful shins, wear supportive shoes with Orthopedic insoles

Not Replacing Running Shoes Often Enough
Running shoes lose their shock-absorbing capability after 250 miles of wear, so you should replace them every three months. This will prevent shin splints and other injuries.

Shoe Choice
High heel shoes might look good, but can be terrible for your feet and legs. Shin splints are only one problem that such footwear can cause. Any ill-fitting shoe can cause pain in your feet and lower legs. Also, shoes that put your weight or balance in an awkward position can impact your shins.

Working On Hard Surfaces
Standing on hard floors all day without some relief for tender soles is just too much for many workers. Running or walking around outdoors in certain types of terrain can also can cause shin splints – remember to take frequent breaks to prevent serious damage. If your job requires you to endure either of these hazards, then you can develop Hard Surface Overuse Syndrome (HSOS). This condition occurs when poorly-protected feet regularly pound against a hard surface.

Preventing Shin Splints

The best way to prevent shin problems is to avoid running or walking on hard surfaces. However, following this suggestion might be impossible for workers who must stand on a hard floor or walk over rough terrain to do their job. In that case, you should make sure to wear well-cushioned supportive shoes and take as many breaks as you can while on the job. Outside of work, you should avoid hobbies such as basketball or running on asphalt which increase your risk of developing shin splints.

If your shin problems are due to exercise, shift to alternative training methods that avoid hard surfaces. While it’s best to utilize low-impact forms of cardio training such as swimming, biking, or elliptical machines, runners can reduce their risk of shin problems by training on grass instead of asphalt. If you play a sport that requires a hard surface such as basketball, ice skating, or indoor volleyball, make sure to use conditioning methods that avoid hard surfaces. That way, you will at least limit the wear and tear on your shins.

Avoid wearing high-heeled or ill-fitting shoes. If your must wear them on special occasions, limit their use and try to stay off your feet as much as possible. Wearing well-cushioned shoes on a regular basis also helps prevent shin injuries.

Other tips to prevent you from developing shin splints include: make sure to stretch calves and hamstrings before exercise, avoid abrupt increases in training, maintain a good weight, and strengthen the muscles of your arches and feet.

Treatment of Shin Splints

The first thing to do if you have shin splints is to rest your legs as much as possible. If the pain persists, you should seek medical help from your primary care health provider.

Treatment of shin splints will depend on the cause. If your problem is due to too much walking or running on a hard surface then the treatment will be, 1) rest and 2) shock-absorbing insoles for your shoes. Reducing the constant pounding of your feet against hard or rough surfaces is the primary way to treat shin splints caused by overuse.

If biomechanical problems with your feet are the cause of your shin injuries, then there are three types of orthotics to treat the problem:

  • Custom orthotics
  • Heat-moulded orthotics
  • Pre-made orthotics

Custom orthotics require a prescription from a podiatrist. Heat-moulded orthotics are available off the shelf, but they must be fitted to the wearer by heating the device. Pre-made orthotics require no fitting process and are made from a soft material that will conform to the wearer’s foot through use.

Your health care provider may also prescribe pain medication to relieve discomfort caused by your shin injury.

Obtaining Custom Orthotics

Custom-made orthotics are the best solution for patients with chronic shin splints caused by biomechanical foot problems. Alla and her Care-Med team in Toronto, Canada offer a full-range of custom orthotics to meet your needs.

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