Sore Shins: Causes and Treatment

Sore shins are not an uncommon problem for race walkers and runners especially in the early stages. Sometimes the soreness in the shin gets tagged as shin splints. They both refer to soreness and pain in the shins, the front part of the lower leg.

Causes of sore shins

Sore shins are usually the result of overtraining. Improper warm-up before running can lead to certain muscles and nerves becoming strained. Those who have taken up running newly or have increased their distance find themselves bothered by sore shins occasionally. If there has been a break in training, and it is resumed, this seems to be another situation in which this problem crops up.

Improper footwear is a big reason for sore shins. People should make sure that they assess their foot shape and the kind of terrain that they run in and find the right kind of shoes for running or fast walking. A shoe with the right kind of sole support can do much to reduce the impact of the running on the shins and can help prevent any problems.

While these two are the most common causes of sore shins, there are cases where a pain along the shins is a case of a fracture. So, it is important to pay attention to the pattern of the pain and if there is no improvement from the regular treatments, it is imperative that the patient consult a doctor at the earliest possible. Further investigation such as an x-ray will be needed to determine a fracture and the doctor is likely to put the leg in a cast or splint to reduce its mobility.

Treatment for sore shins

It is important to stop exercising, whether walking or running, as soon as the sharp shin pain surfaces. Do not assume it is insignificant but take the effort to assess it properly. Icing the area works well to reduce any swelling or inflammation that may occur. The best way to apply a cold compress is to place ice wrapped in a towel on the affected area. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.

Ibuprofen and other over-the-counter pain killers can be useful in managing the pain in the shins. It is not advisable to take these for a long period of time but they can be handy during the short term to handle the pain.

It is important to wear the right shoes to avoid getting any leg injury including sore shins. It is advisable to consult with a footwear  expert in a good sports gear store or even a medical professional to ensure that you provide the right kind of support for the arches heel and toe area. The shoes should encase the foot in a supportive and cushioned way but it should not be overly tight or loose. In rare cases, it may be necessary to get custom shoes if there is a disparity between the sizes of the two feet. Sometimes you may have done all this research and got a great pair of shoes but may not notice when wear and tear starting setting in. So, at the first signs of shin trouble examine your shoes thoroughly to make sure that they are well cushioned and able to absorb the shock of the feet pounding on the group.

If at all possible, it can be beneficial to change the surface on which a patient walks or runs. Over exposure to one kind of surface may be taking its toll on the legs and so switching to grass or dirt may give the legs time to heal. Concrete is the toughest in terms of its hardness with asphalt being second.

There are also a couple of exercises that are recommended for handling sore shins. Toe raises are the easiest to do and they have immediate impact on the shins. This is an exercise that can be done when a person is sitting and working or watching television and it helps stretch the shin muscles and releases the tension there.

Cases where these common sense efforts do not see any reduction in the level of soreness need prompt medical attention.


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