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What are Shin Splints? And what can I do about them?

EXERCISE RELATED LEG PAIN

Many of us find that our legs get a bit sore when we get back into exercise,
but for some people the pain is enough to make them stop.
Pain in the lower leg with walking, running or riding can result from a
number of different problems.

SHIN SPLINTS

Many of you will already be aware of shin splints and stress fractures.
Shin splints occur when the lining of the bone is inflamed. These will often
hurt at the start of exercise but warm up if you keep going.
Stress fractures happen when shin splints worsen. The pain is worse, doesn’t
warm up and can hang around all night.

MY PAIN IS DIFFERENT – CAN IT STILL BE SHIN SPLINTS?

As Sports Physicians, we see a number of other conditions that are often
confused with shin splints.
A tightness in your legs that doesn’t stop until you do might represent
compartment syndrome, where the muscles are being squashed by tight lining
tissue of the leg. More rarely, you may have some blockage of the blood flow
into the leg muscles.
If your age is little higher than Michael Clarke’s batting average, the pain
in your legs may be referred from your back or be caused by issues with the
blood vessels higher up the legs.

WHAT CAN I DO?
There are a few basic steps to take if you start experiencing leg pain with
exercise

1. Check your footwear. Good supportive footwear will prevent or even
treat many of the causes of pain. Occasionally orthotics may be required.

2. Use ice, stretching and massage regularly.

3. Make sure that the muscles higher up in the leg around the hips and
pelvis are strong. If these muscles are doing their fair share, it reduces
the load on your calves.

4. Be aware that pushing on through pain could be doing you some harm.

AND IF THAT DOESN’T WORK?
Be sure to seek professional help. An accurate diagnosis will be the first
step to ensuring that you have your best chance of a complete recovery.

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