Can I Use Compression Socks for Shin Splints?
The term shin splints is used to describe pain felt in the front of the lower leg, usually as a result of exercise. Although pain in that area can be caused by other conditions such as compartment syndrome or a stress fracture (which is why you should always get medically assessed) the milder condition of medial tibial stress syndrome is often the reason for the painful symptoms. Medial tibial stress syndrome is the second most common running injury. Runners who suddenly increase the length or intensity of their runs, or start running on a harder surface, along with basketball players, tennis players, and other athletes are susceptible.
Too much pressure on the shins inflames the layer of connective tissue that covers the surface of the shinbone (periosteum). Medical advice is to avoid running until all symptoms have subsided (at least two weeks), and then to gradually resume. Icing the sore area, or foam rolling the shins can help, and strengthening the muscles in the legs to help support the lower leg structure is recommended.
In order to minimize the chances of developing shin splints, itís important to wear high-quality running shoes with insoles that absorb shock. Flat feet can cause medial tibial stress syndrome, so if you suffer from that condition, use arch supports in your shoes.
Compression socks can help with the symptoms of shin splints. The elasticated fabric provides gentle support for the lower leg, while adjustable straps over the tendons and muscles reduce pressure on the shin. The compression supplied by the socks holds the bones, muscles, and tendons tightly together so the vibration of the leg on striking the ground is lessened.
Compression socks tend to be thin and lightweight, although styles and brands can vary, but generally they are comfortable to wear both during exercise and afterwards.
They donít help all users, but enough athletes claim that compression socks have been extremely effective in reducing the symptoms of shin splints to warrant giving them a try. Long-distance runners find them particularly effective. People report that wearing them not only during exercise, but also after exercise and while sleeping greatly improves recovery time from the exertions of the exercise.
Compression socks vary in the amount of compression they provide, so you might have to experiment to find the right level for you, but as they are relatively inexpensive this should be possible, and they might be just what you need to avoid the pain of shin splints.
Walking with plantar fasciitis can be extremely painful, as every step will be stretching an already overstretched plantar fascia. However, it is important to keep the ligament reasonably stretched in order to avoid it tightening up and causing even more pain when moving. For this reason it can be helpful to wear a specialized splint, sock or sleeve during the night.
The correct shoe to look for depends on the cause of your plantar fasciitis. If it is a result of overpronation (the collapse of the arch when weight is put on it) you will need shoes that control the tendency to overpronate. The degree of support will depend on the level of overpronation you experience. Some examples of shoe brands to consider are Asics, New Balance, and Brooks.
In order to minimize pain while walking, the best shoes will be those with a good, supportive arch. Keeping the arch supported will prevent the plantar fascia overstretching at each step. Along with good arch support, look for shoes with a solid outsole and a slightly elevated heel. The back of the shoe that surrounds your heel should fit firmly and snugly, with no sliding up and down of the heel when you walk. It should be strong, but not overly stiff; you should not be able to squash it.
The sole should be firm, but it needs to have a good rocker and a slight heel. When you hold the shoe and flex it, it should bend in the toe box (front part of the shoe) i.e., where the ball of your foot would be, not in the middle or back. Cushioning will help absorb the impact of your heel striking the ground.
When trying on a new pair of shoes, do it in the afternoon, or after a walk, when your feet will be warm and slightly swollen. Whichever shoes you choose, they should be immediately comfortable and not need any Ďbreaking-in.í
Choose activity-specific shoes, i.e., tennis shoes for tennis, running shoes for running, and so on.
And donít rule out flip flops for the summer. ABEO, Orthaheel, and Okabashi all make flip flops that provide arch support and are reported to be extremely comfortable to wear, even with plantar fasciitis.
Heel cups, insoles, and arch supports can be purchased to customize your regular shoes. If purchasing an over-the-counter arch support, make sure that you canít squash it down with your hands. If you can, it isnít strong enough.
Whatever you do, donít try to walk barefoot until your symptoms have gone.