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Jason asked...

Getting rid of the shin splints and pain

Hi, I want some advice about my shin splints keep getting them when playing football and training and how would i get rid of the shin splints and pain

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The answer

Jason, thank you for contacting us here at Ask the Expert.

Shin splints are a general term used to describe the pain felt in the shins or the front of the legs when exercising.

This pain first presents as a dull ache down the shin but will intensify if you persist in exercising and can become very severe which may prevent you from exercising further.

When you suffer from shin splints it is important to stop vigorous exercising to prevent damaging your bones and muscles further.

Ideally you should stop vigorous exercise e.g. where you are running or playing football for a few weeks to allow you to recover but, you can do non- strenuous exercise such as swimming, cycling, cross-training or yoga instead.

Possible causes for Shin Splints include:

  • Medial Stress Syndrome- this is where the connective tissue covering the tibia becomes inflamed as a result of too much pressure being placed on the muscles from prolonged or sudden increasing of exercising periods where the foot is hitting hard ground and the leg takes on board too much force.
  • Having a history of tight calf muscles or Achilles tendon issues.
  • Running on hard services particularly, when not experienced in running long periods over a prolonged period or being new to running.
  • Having posture problems such as flat feet or a tendency for your feet to roll inwards.
  • Wearing incorrect or un-supportive footwear to exercise in.
  • Being overweight as this increases the stress on your legs.

How to treat Shin Splints:

  • Rest and stop vigorous exercising for a few weeks until pain eases.
  • Continue with low impact exercising to build up stamina and strengthen weak muscles.
  • Use analgesia and anti-inflammatories eg. Paracetamol, Codeine and Ibuprofen.
  • Use ice to reduce any swelling for the first 48 hours after injury sustained.
  • Ensure that you wear supportive footwear with orthotics if needed.
  • Seek medical advice and support- GP, Physiotherapists and Podiatrists.

Once you have recovered from the shin splint episode you can gradually resume exercise but this ideally should be done on a progressive basis of about six weeks.

Exercise should be reintroduced ensuring that you take precautions such as ensuring that good footwear is used and if possible avoiding hard surfaces.

If pain is felt on resuming your usual exercise routine then stop the exercise being undertaken.

It is important that your muscle strength and stamina is built up gradually and that you warm up and down post exercising.

If you keep suffering from pain when resuming exercise then again we would recommend that you see your GP as further investigation into causes may need to be considered.

If you have a private healthcare policy through AXA-PPP Healthcare then you may find that you can access investigations and physiotherapy through these means.

The policy teams are available to discuss this further during their office hours which are 8am- 8pm Monday to Friday and Saturdays 9am- 5pm.

Jason, we hope the above information helps.

Wishing you well.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses

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