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What are shin splints?

My son has been getting them when he runs track. I've never had them before so I just wanted an idea of what they feel like. Is there anything you can do to prevent them? Does putting ice on them really ease the discomfort?


Asked by zboys at 10:17 PM on Mar. 14, 2011 in Health

Level 19 (7,074 Credits)
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Answers (10)
  • Sorry for all the posts... but I can't but a word doc here... anyways... most important thing to address is how his foot hits the ground. If his arch is not being supported correctly all other interventions will only be a band-aid for this condition. I treat this regularly in my practice as a certified athletic trainer, or an ATC/L (sports medicine specialist) working at the high schools level.


    Answer by Crafty26 at 10:52 PM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • Taking some ibuprofen (motrin) and some ice and stretching can help ease the discomfort. It is incredibly painful and it feels like a knife stabbing into your shins. I have had it happen a few times. I try to make sure that I stretch out my calf and and ankles which helps pull the tendons which is what is actually hurting.

    Answer by coala at 10:20 PM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • The term “Shin splint” is a catchall phrase for lower leg pain. There are many different causes and treatments for lower leg pain in the physically active individual. For example, pain on the front outside portion of the lower leg may be an anterior compartment syndrome, and should be treated by a doctor. Pain on the front inside lower portion of the shin is the condition commonly referred to as “shin splints”, and can be treated quite easily. However, pinpoint pain directly on the shin bone (Tibia) should be evaluated by a doctor to rule out any kind of stress fracture. cont....

    Answer by Crafty26 at 10:46 PM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • There are many contributing factors that cause “Shin Splint” pain. Some of these are listed to below :

     Increased training at the beginning of a sports season, or return to activity after a prolonged break.
     Change in training surface such as the switch from outdoor summer/fall activities to indoor winter activities on hard floors/courts.
     Excessive or prolonged pronation of the foot while walking and/or running.
     Inadequate arch support in shoes, sneakers and other footwear which do not compensate for a tendency to over pronate the foot (roll it excessively inward onto the arch).
     Poor or warn-out footwear.
     Weak muscles of the lower leg
     Lack of flexibility in the lower leg.

    Answer by Crafty26 at 10:47 PM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • The best treatment for the pain associated with shin splints is rest for 5-7 days, ice and over the counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen. If rest is not a feasible option then activity modification can be the next best thing.

     Activities that involve high impact or jumping should be avoided, low or no impact activities are best.
     Pay careful attention to selecting the correct running shoe based upon the foot type (flexible pronator vs. rigid supinator). This is extremely important.
     Shoe inserts (orthotics) such as an athletic type arch support is usually necessary.
     Calf and anterior (front of) leg stretching and strengthening addresses some of the biomechanical problems discussed above and reduce pain.
     Stretching and strengthening exercises are done twice a day.

    Answer by Crafty26 at 10:48 PM on Mar. 14, 2011

  •  Run only when symptoms have generally resolved (often less than two weeks) and with several restrictions:
    • A level and soft terrain is best.
    • Distance is limited to 50% of that tolerated pre-injury.
    • Intensity (pace) is similarly cut by one half.
    • Over a three-six week period, a gradual increase in distance is allowed.
    • Only then can a gradual increase in pace be attempted.

    Answer by Crafty26 at 10:49 PM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • **** DO NOT use a compression wrap on the shin for this type of pain because the problem is usually associated with too much compression in the area already. By wrapping the shin with tape or a compression wrap you increase the pressure on the muscles and supporting structures and tissues, increasing the pressure in the compartments of the lower leg region. This action could actually do more harm than good!!

    No matter what the cause of your “shin splint” type pain DO NOT delay treatment of this condition. It rarely goes away without addressing the cause.

    Answer by Crafty26 at 10:49 PM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • Honestly, it feels like knives stabbing in your shins. They hurt like Hell.
    And, almost everyone who is in sports gets them.

    Tylenol, or some OTC pain reliever...
    Again, as stated above, don't wrap them.

    The only thing he can do is suck it up...the price ya pay when you play sports. I hope he feels better.

    Answer by Chloesmom1126 at 5:08 AM on Mar. 15, 2011

  • "suck it up" is one of the worst things you ca do!! Treat the cause... usually lack of proper arch support leading to over pronation of the forefoot.... sucking it up and not treating the cause can and usually does lead to stress fractures in the lower leg!!! Can't tell you how many times I've seen that b/c kids thought it was OK to suck it up!!


    Answer by Crafty26 at 7:57 AM on Mar. 15, 2011

  • ICE and rest.

    Take a small dixie type cup, fill up with water, and freeze. When frozen, peel off top part of cup and rub ice on shins. 20 minutes every hour if possible. Elevate legs when resting. Take ibuprofen for any pain.

    Also, check his shoes or have his shoes/gait checked at a running store.

    Answer by sokkamum at 9:16 AM on Mar. 15, 2011