Guest Author - Lori Collvins
Shin splints can be a very frustrating and painful injury and often get ignored too long. Basketball players and cheerleaders are candidates for lower leg injuries, such as shin splints. Extra care should be taken, especially at the start of the season, to help decrease the risk of this injury. Most shin splints occur as a result of lack of proper shock absorption, particularly during a sudden increase in pre-season activity and vigorous training.
Knowing the symptoms of shin splints can increase recognition and greatly decrease recovery time. The pain associated with shin splints typically begins as a dull ache in the front of the lower part of the leg and several small bumps may be felt along the shin where the tenderness is. If left untreated, shin splints will only get worse, leading to possible stress fractures.
A sudden increase in running and jumping can cause shin splints, but they can also be caused by worn out or inappropriate shoes. Flat feet can cause one to get shin splints as more stress is placed on the lower leg muscles during physical activities and people with high arches may also develop shin splints due to bad shock absorption from the feet. Constant running and jumping puts a lot of stress on the tibia and the muscles associated with it. The injury occurs when the muscles attached to the tibia are over-exerted and the muscles actually begin to pull or tear away from the bone.
Proper footwear is critical for the prevention of shin splints no matter what the cause is and will go a long way in relieving the stress on these muscles. Stretching and doing strengthening exercises for the leg muscles will also help in the prevention of shin splints.
Once shin splints have developed, treatment should begin immediately. The reasons for this are simple. A quick fix does not exist and the longer they are left untreated, the worse they will become. It could take a few weeks of rest and care to recover from shin splints, or it could take an athlete out of the entire season if it is ignored. At the very least, the intensity of the activity should be decreased for at least one week, if not halted altogether. Just because the shin splints do not hurt all the time does not mean they are not a genuine problem. Stretch before and after activities, including training. Aspirin or ibuprofen can be taken to reduce the pain and inflammation and ice should be used immediately after activities. Shin splint braces are also available to enable athletes to maintain some level of participation while still protecting the affected area.
Before returning to previous activity levels, an athlete should always be sure they have discovered and corrected the initial cause of the shin splints or the shin splints will just return again later.
None of the information here is meant to replace the advice of a physician so be sure you see your doctor about any injury. Check out the links below to get even more information on shin splints.
See you on the court!