Your feet’s ability to absorb and distribute shock is critical. It’s what allows you to strike and push off of the ground again when you run without injuring yourself. When your feet don’t handle pressure and impacts efficiently—or they become overworked doing so—you end up with painful problems like shin splints.
Sidelined by Burning and Aching
Most athletes are familiar with shin splints. This common overuse injury develops when your lower limbs are overworked and inflamed, usually as the result of repetitive activity. Suddenly increasing or changing your exercise routine is the most common culprit. If your feet aren’t conditioned to handle the change, the stress of the repeated impacts inflames the muscles and tendons along your shin bone. Flat feet, particularly rigid ones, and worn out shoes that contribute to overpronation, can also lead to wear and tear on your shins.
Symptoms start with burning, aching lower legs whenever you’re active. Your shins may swell somewhat and feel tender to the touch. Often the discomfort is worse when you exercise and right after you stop, though the pain will decrease as you rest. If flattened arches play a role in the issue, you may also experience pain in the feet or pain in the ankles. The condition is quite similar to stress fractures, tendonitis, and compartment syndrome, so you will need to have it accurately diagnosed to receive the best treatment. As an overuse issue, the injury will not improve on its own. In fact, it may worsen to the point that you’re unable to participate in your favorite activities.
De-Stressing the Shins
To be able to return to sports and activities pain-free, you have to eliminate the inflammation and allow the tissues to repair themselves. This can be done using entirely conservative measures. Dr. David Laurino, Dr. Antonius Su, and Dr. Darick Freestone will carefully evaluate your lower limbs and diagnose the issue. Our staff may use diagnostic images to rule out other possible problems, like stress fractures. Then we’ll help you begin your recovery.
The most important step will be to rest your feet and lower legs. Take a break from hard-impact exercises and activities that cause discomfort. This will give your shins the time they need to heal. Ice your lower legs and wrap them in compression bandages to help decrease inflammation and swelling in the tissues. This can help speed the healing. Stretch out your feet and supporting tendons to combat any tightness that may contribute to the condition.
Supporting your feet may help as well. Make sure you replace worn out shoes with ones that appropriately stabilize and cushion your lower limbs. If you have flat feet or other arch trouble, you may need custom orthotics to help control your biomechanics. Once your shins no longer hurt, you can begin returning to your activities. Start slowly so that you condition your feet and ankles to handle the strain. That way, you won’t promptly reinjure yourself.
Shin splints are a common problem that can sideline athletes and keep them from doing what they love. You don’t have to give up your activities to accommodate your lower limbs, however. Let Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona help you recover. You can make an appointment with us by calling, faxing, or using our web request form. To reach the Chandler office directly, call (480) 963-9000 or fax (480) 963-0375; to reach the Gilbert location, call (480) 981-1800 and fax (480) 981-0229.