Yes, skiing can cause shin splints. However, the nagging lower leg injury can be treated and prevented so you don’t have to take too much time off of the snow or deal with persistent pain and discomfort.
It’s also important to know that shin splints can be caused by a variety of other sporting activities and may be increased or worsened by skiing if you’re already dealing with them.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at this common injury that can occur when you’re on the snow.
What Are Shin Splints?
Shin splints are a general term used to refer to pain in your lower leg along the ‘shin’ bone (technically called the tibia).
Medically speaking, shin splints are known as medial tibial stress syndrome. If you break down that definition, it indicates stress in the middle region of your tibia where the muscles and tendons that connect to your bone become sore, torn, and bruised.
Shin splints typically occur in athletes of many different varieties who put a lot of stress on their legs. It’s also common for anyone attempting a new sporting activity and using their legs or leg muscles in an unfamiliar way.
Skiing can cause them, but you might also experience them if you play other sports like running, basketball, soccer, football, or even dance.
How Does Skiing Cause Shin Splints?
As mentioned above, any type of sporting activity can lead to shin splints. That includes skiing. If you’re new to the sport, you’re going to be using a lot of muscles and muscle groups that you may have never put under intense strain before. That much new leg strain can cause the muscles and tendons that surround your tibia bone to twist or tear.
When that happens during bursts of athletic activity, you can develop a case of shin splints pretty easily. Another reason why skiing can lead to shin splints is because of your boots.
Ski footwear sits directly on your shinbone and can contribute to the stress and pain you experience while on the slopes. If you don’t have boots that fit properly, it can lead to long-term problems as well.
The constant pressure of your ski boots alongside the constant strain you put your legs under while skiing is a recipe for shin splints. That goes double if you haven’t done any training during the offseason.
It’s also important to know that if you have a mild case of shin splints from some other activity, the problem can become worse when you ski. That can lead to an uncomfortable time on the slopes. If you think you might have shin splints, you might want to postpone your ski trip until you’re feeling better.
What to Do if You Have Shin Splints
Shin splints can definitely be painful and uncomfortable, but they are almost always a treatable condition that will go away fairly quickly if you follow the best rest and recuperation practices to encourage healing.
The best way to help shin splints when you start feeling them is to stop doing the activity that hurts you and rest. You can ice your shins after skiing, or whatever activity resulted in your leg pain, and take over-the-counter pain medications such as Advil to relieve discomfort.
However, the only way to truly heal shin splints is to rest and not participate in the sports or activities that caused them in the first place. That means time away from the snow if you’re a skier. That’s bad news if you love the sport, but dealing with constant pain is no fun and your shin splints will only get worse if you don’t take a break.
Typically, you can heal up from shin splints in about two weeks of downtime, but that will obviously vary from skier to skier.
Always try and prevent shin splints before they occur. You can do that in two ways; by following a training plan during the offseason and wearing ski boots that fit you properly. Training during the offseason allows you to build up the strength and conditioning needed to stop the condition.
Consistent and varied exercises such as running, plyometrics, weight training, and can help you become a better skier. There’s no guarantee that will stop shin splints forever, but it will certainly help. Properly fitting ski boots are also very important in preventing shin splints. A boot that fits you well will also help you ski better, so it’s a win-win.
If you don’t know how to properly fit a ski boot yourself, make sure to ask the ski tech and the shop or rental location where you get your footwear. They will be able to get you a precise or customized boot fit that will help with injury prevention.
There are many different injuries that can occur when you’re skiing, and they range from minor to severe. Some are accidents, and some are avoidable if you play it safe and practice good skiing habits.
However, due to the nature of the sport with its high impact and high speeds, injuries are a part of being a skier. Even the best skiers have to deal with injuries and the more often you ski, the more likely you are to get hurt.
Shin splints are a common injury that many skiers deal with at some point during their skiing careers. Even though the condition can be painful, with proper rest and recovery you can be back on the slopes in no time at all.
Just remember that the best way to prevent shin splints is to train and strengthen when you aren’t skiing and get boots that fit. Such measures will prevent the issue before it occurs.
Have you ever had shin splints before? How long did they last and did you do anything to help your recovery? Let me know in the comments below!