Common Sports Injuries

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Shin splint injury

Shin splints is an overuse condition found amongst runners and in activities where repetitive pounding of the feet on hard surfaces occurs such as in aerobics.

The muscle(s) or tendon(s) or bone covering can become stretched torn or irritated.

Cause of shin splints

Shin splints are commonly caused by repetitive stress during running, aerobics and similar activities. A specific injury is not responsible. Weak or inflexible muscles are especially prone to sprain. A foot that has flat arches does not absorb shock adequately and the shock in turn travels up the lower leg bone.

Symptoms

Symptoms can be a vague leg pain or pain is felt along the shin. There is pain when running and jumping and there can be swelling.

Healing and recovery

For minor shin splints, for example a vague pain that is not too troublesome, gentle stretching of the calf muscles will perhaps be all that is necessary. If pain continues for more than two weeks or in the first instance if pain is severe, use the RICE procedure and seek medical advice to rule out a possible stress fracture.

How long to heal for minor shin splints can be approximately 2 weeks, but some cases can persist for several weeks. Avoid any hot showers and heat penetrating creams as these will delay the healing process.

Exercises

Firstly stretch the muscle in the front of your leg by sitting with your leg straight. Press your toes of your injured leg downwards and you will feel the pull in your front leg muscle. If you can't reach your toes with you hand, use your other foot.

A list of exercises to help you re-strengthen your calf and recover from injury can be found on our best lower leg exercises page.

Prevention

Calf stretches and ankle strengthening exercises should be performed and flexibility training. Always warm up as this will increase the body and muscle temperature and blood and oxygen will increase around the working muscles and this lubricates the muscles, joints, and connective tissues. This will help reduce the risk of overstretching.

PROTECTION

Arch supports can be worn or an elastic wrap or calf sleeve to support the shin.


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Always consult your Doctor before performing any exercise or treatment. All information on the common sports injuries web site is provided as general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment of any sports injury.