The Dreaded Shin Splints

Shin splints, I’m sure most everyone has heard this term but not everyone has had to endure this unbearable torture.  When I was a freshman and sophomore in high school I was part of the track team.  I was a long-distance runner, I ran in many of the longer distance races like the 800 meter the 4X800, or the 1600 meter which is the mile.  I also competed as a jumper, more specifically I did long jump, I tried but failed miserably at the triple jump and I was the only high jumper for the entire school.  At the beginning of each season I would jump my best and I focused mainly on my all-time favorite, the high jump. My best jump with hardly any training was 5’ 0” at practice.  This excitement of this accomplishment came to a sudden end each season.  The cause was yes, you guessed it…the dreaded shin splints.

I had no idea of the cause till I became a medical assistant for Pueblo Ankle and Foot Care. I tried icing, and used the commonly known topical pain reliever for athletes “Icey Hot,” which never even touched the pain.  I tried stretches and even calf raises to help stimulate blood flow to my lower legs.  Nothing helped except rest. Sadly, my jumping career never advanced because of the constant stopping also stomping from planting my feet to complete my jumps were part of the main problem. As soon as the season would end, the pain would also end.

There are many ways a podiatrist can help an athlete to overcome or even prevent these horrible symptoms of the dreaded shin splints. One treatment is gait retraining and R.I.C.E which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Some other conservative methods of treating shin splints include an over the counter anti-inflammatory, custom made orthotics and a NEW pair of comfortable sturdy shoes.  Also, strengthening exercises have been helpful in the treatment of shin splints.  It is always best to consult with a Podiatrist for any ailments below the knee to obtain a professional opinion as well as diagnostic imaging can help in the diagnosis to carry out the optimal treatment plan for any lower leg, ankle or foot pain.

Written by Megan Rhule PMAC and Practice Representative