Shin splints are a painful condition that sometimes afflict runners or walkers. Learn how to avoid and treat shin splints to avoid the pain that threatens to sideline you from your favorite exercise.
Shin splints occur when the tendons along the front of the shin become inflamed. There are some simple things you can do that will help you avoid the painful injury.
Prevent shin splints by stretching.
The best way to avoid shin splints is to begin your exercise routine by stretching. Stretch the front of your shin by pointing and flexing, holding the stretch for several seconds. Stretching leads to improved flexibility which dramatically decreases your chance of injury when exercising.
How to avoid shin splints – Don’t overdo it.
Sometimes shin splints are caused by increasing mileage or intensity too quickly. It is important to slowly increase distance and intensity so that your legs, muscles, and tendons have time to become accustomed to the workload. Stop if you begin to feel discomfort in your lower legs. Give your muscles and tendons some rest.
Treat shin splints by taking a day off.
When you develop shin splints take some time off. Continuing with your exercise will only further inflame your tendons.
How to prevent shin splints – Watch your form.
How you run is just as important as how far you run. If one or both of your feet tends to roll, or pronate, as you run or you run flat-footed you are likely to develop shin splints. There are two ways to improve your form and help avoid the pain of injury.
Improve your running form with practice.
Pay attention to the way you run. Have someone watch you run to help you determine if you pronate or run flat-footed.
You can improve your stride and decrease the likelihood of injury if you glance the ground with your foot and quickly roll and bounce up off your foot into your next step. Get your feet off of the ground. Don’t stomp when you run.
Running correctly will put less pressure and tension on your joints and tendons reducing your chances of getting injured.
Improve your running form by wearing appropriate athletic shoes.
If one or both of your feet rolls when you run your stride will need to be corrected with appropriate running shoes.
Many running, walking, and cross-training shoes are made with extra support to prevent pronation. When you buy athletic shoes, it is a good idea to consult a professional. They can help you choose a pair of running shoes with the appropriate support to correct pronation.
If you run flat-footed a pair of shoes that lifts and supports your arches may help improve the way your foot strikes the ground.
Treat shin splints with rest and ice.
If you have developed shin splints it’s time to take a day or two off. Inflamed tendons need time to heal.
Ibuprofen will help treat the pain and reduce inflammation. Icing your shins two or three times a day will also help reduce inflammation.
Further resources for learning to treat and prevent shin splints:
Shin Splints, Runner’s World
Shin Splints, Mayo Clinic
Further reading about running shoes:
Guide to Buying Running Shoes
Reebock Launches Run Easy
Masai Barefoot Technology