Do the front of your calves or shins throb and ache after your daily run or workout?

It could be shin splints. They can be caused by:

  • Irritated and swollen muscles from overuse
  • Stress fractures – tiny breaks in the lower leg bones
  • Over Pronation or “flat feet” — when impact collapses the foot’s arch
  • Weakness of hip or core muscles

Shin splints are common in runners who increase workout intensity, or change the surface they run on. They are also common in people who lift weights, do crossfit training, dancers, and practically everyone who puts downward pressure on their legs and feet.

Treatment suggestions:

  • Be certain there are no fractures
  • Rest: Don’t do any strenuous lower body exercise again until the pain subsides. Exerting force on a damaged part of the body will not make it heal better. The adage, “no pain, no gain”, does not apply in the case of an injury.
  • Apply ice to the painful area(s); 20 minutes every 4 hours for 2 to 3 days
  • Avoid oral anti-inflammatory drugs whenever possible
  • Use orthotics or wear shoes with arch and side/ankle support. Good workout shoes are mandatory. Trying to save money with cheap shoes is a prescription for disaster.
  • Do mild stretching and range of motion exercises – ask a trainer, doctor, or sports physiologist for guidance. Correct exercise can help and the wrong one can do more harm.
  • Depending on the base cause of the shin splints, wearing a compression sock or a neoprene calf support can hold things together and reduce irritation.
  • Apply a topical pain reliever to the painful area. Ibuprofen is good and recent work suggests topical application of vitamin D works as an anti-inflammatory.

Don’t force it if it isn’t healed. How to know it’s okay to get back to the grind;

  • The sore leg is as flexible as the other leg.
  • The injured leg feels as strong as the other leg.
  • You can jog, sprint, and jump without pain.
  • X-rays are normal.