For Instructors

Shin Splints....thoughts on care?

As an instructor, I’m sure it’s happened to many of us—questions about physical ailments that affect our clients. I’m not always sure how to handle such questions because while I’ve been briefly taught about areas prone to injury from an activity, I never know the specifics. I am always honest with clients about this, and always encourage a greater discussion with a certified trainer (more often ACE certified) as well as a client’s own physician. The last thing I want to do is give advice; the only advice I feel good about giving is if I myself had experienced a similar ailment, sought medical care, and then feel like I can share it with some level of knowledge.

Recently (okay, maybe like a month ago—I’ve fallen a bit behind responding to Sue), a student in my class (Sue) came and asked about shin splints. I did tell her that I would also do some research on it, and now, belatedly I am doing some looking around. In the meantime, though, I knew she was working with her trainer on the issue—but seriously, she likes to work out hard in class and most often, those of us who like our workouts forget that sometimes rest is key J

So, some online research on shin splints: I think though, I might have done this in the past…but having never had them myself before, I forget the care and concern that should be allotted to this injury.  Shin splints are injuries to the front of the outer leg, due likely to some inflammation.  They’re from overuse! Hence: rest (which we know we should do….but sometimes we don’t take care of ourselves in this way for fears of getting out of shape, fears of gaining weight—whatever those reasons may be). 

In my research, for Sue I’m going to bring up checking on the footwear she’s using for her athletic activity.  While she can’t change the biomechanics of how her legs and feet are built, the right shoe may be of help.  It seems in the past there were two schools of thought on recover: run through it, or total rest.  I think that the former has proven less successful and could often lead to worsening of the injury.  Looking through the Mayo Clinic site recommendations include: rest, ice (for 15-20 minutes at a time, four to eight times a day for several days), elevation of the shin above the level of the heart (to reduce swelling), over the counter pain reliever (I don’t ever recommend any medication to clients, I always tell them to consult their doctors first!), and considering arch supports (which I have in my shoes for flat fleet—simple consult with podiatrist and custom made orthotics!). 

That being said, this is all things I have found online without having experienced shin splints myself. Can anyone else offer insight to all of us here?




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