What causes shin splints?


Quick Answer

Shin splints are caused by overuse of the muscles of the lower leg, repetitive impact with flat feet, stress fractures in the shin bones or weakness in stabilizer muscles supporting lower-leg muscles, according to WebMD. This condition is frequent among athletes, and it is particularly prevalent after an athlete increases the intensity of her workouts or changes to a new workout routine.

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Full Answer

Mayo Clinic explains that shin splints are most common among runners, dancers and military recruits. Each of these activities puts the lower legs under repeated stress during training. Shin splints develop as the muscles and bones of these areas suffer repeated damage.

Shin splints manifest as pain along the shin bone in the front of the leg, according to Mayo Clinic. Although shin splints rarely require medical treatment, home remedies are useful in speeding recovery and preventing more severe injuries. WebMD recommends rest as a primary recovery tool and advises allowing the muscles proper time to heal by taking several days off until pain subsides. Additionally, icing helps speed recovery and lessens swelling, particularly in the first few days after pain begins. Anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, similarly combats swelling, and it aids in pain management from the injury. Orthotics may be helpful if the shin splints arise from poor biomechanics when exercising. Additionally, WebMD suggests working to strengthen the leg and increase flexibility to speed recovery and prevent incidences of relapse.

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