The goal of every athlete is to master the execution of certain movements and repeat them precisely time and time again. Unfortunately, the ability to repeat an action in exactly the same way every time puts their bodies at risk for repetitive strain injuries (RSI).
One of the most common types of RSIs — shin splints — can sideline you from your sport for a long time, as they are slow to heal and tend to recur.
Dr. Dana Robinson and our team of sports injury specialists at Peninsula RSI Chiropractic Wellness Center help athletes throughout Redwood City, California, stay in the game and keep their bodies in peak condition. If shin splints are keeping you out of the action, we can help.
Shin splints explained
The term “shin splints” is an odd name for the medical condition it describes — medial tibial stress syndrome. While the injury affects the shins, the word “splints” is a bit of mystery. Still, the name has stuck, and athletes everywhere know exactly what it means — pain.
The condition occurs when the muscles in your lower leg pull repeatedly at the point where they connect to your shin bone. The muscles and connective tissue become inflamed and painful, making it difficult to perform well.
What causes shin splints?
Repetitive stress causes shin splints, but what causes the repetitive stress? Here are some of the most common culprits behind the problem:
- Changing the intensity of your workouts
- Starting a new exercise routine
- Practicing/playing/performing without resting between
- Walking or running extreme distances, especially on uneven surfaces
These factors can apply to any athlete or nonathlete, but dancers and runners experience shin splints more than most.
Wearing shoes that don’t support your arches well can also lead to shin splints. And if you have flat feet or osteoporosis, which weakens your bones, you’re also at a higher risk for shin splints.
Tips for easing shin splints at home
Often, shin splints resolve on their own, but they need a helping hand. Here’s what you can do at home to ease the pain and speed the recovery:
- Rest, and don’t run or play sports for about a week
- Ice your shins for about 10-20 minutes up to four times a day
- Take ibuprofen to reduce swelling and ease discomfort
- Wear supportive shoes or get custom orthotics
Because shin splints aren’t usually debilitating, many athletes consider them a mere annoyance, and they play through the pain. This is a bad move because if you don’t give the muscles and connective tissues a chance to heal properly, they’ll remain inflamed and painful. Over time, this could lead to a stress fracture that’ll land you in a boot with a pair of crutches.
How we treat shin splints
If at-home measures aren’t reliving your shin splints, it’s time to come see Dr. Robinson. She specializes in sports injuries and healing soft tissues, so she can evaluate the severity of your shin splints and recommend an effective treatment plan.
Often this includes massage therapy to alleviate inflammation and increase circulation to the area, which delivers oxygen-rich blood full of nutrients and healing properties.
Dr. Robinson also uses electrical stimulation and class 4 lasers to trigger energy production, promote healing, and decrease swelling. These advanced technologies temporarily halt the pain messages sent from your nerves to your brain, so you experience relief long enough to allow the tissues to heal in peace.
If you want to get back in the game quickly, work with Dr. Robinson to resolve your shin splints and heal completely before jumping back in. To schedule an appointment, call or book online.