What Are Shin Splints?
Shin splints usually affects athletes, runners, dancers, and military personnel; however, they can affect anyone who undertakes strenuous physical activities, or who has suddenly increased or changed their exercise routine. Running on irregular or hard surfaces, having extremely flat arches on your feet, wearing ill-fitting shoes, being overweight, and having abnormal movement patterns –such as overpronation or oversupination of the feet while running- are also factors which can increase your risk of developing shin splints.
The exact pathophysiology of shin splints isn’t known; however, theories include minor tears in the muscles, and injury to the periosteum or bone tissue. In all of these theories, excessive stress is the common denominator which causes shin splints.
The best way to approach shin splints treatment is to combine Podiatry and Physiotherapy (podphysio); this way, you will ensure that you tissues heal properly and make it less likely for the injury to reappear in the future.
The first step in shin splint treatment is always to rest up. Although it can be frustrating if you are used to exercising and performing physical activities, you must allow your body to heal before starting your regime again. Rest is usually prescribed for 2 to 6 weeks, and over-the-counter painkillers and ice packs can be used during this time.
After this stage, your physiotherapist will prescribe different exercises aimed towards regaining full motion and muscle strength, and making sure the scar tissue from the shin splints heals in a way that will minimise the risk of re-injury.
The podiatrist’s role in shin splint treatment is to evaluate your feet and diagnose any of the biomechanical abnormalities which might have caused the problem. Then, they will decide if you need orthotics to correct these abnormalities, which will also help improve shock absorption.
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