Shin splints are an unfortunate reality of running, affecting countless athletes and recreational runners.
They’re those pesky pains in your lower legs that can really sideline your training.
Shin splints are a common injury among runners, but they can be prevented with the right precautions
But what exactly are they, and how can you prevent them? Keep reading to find out!
How Do Shin Splints Occur?
They occur when the muscles and tendons around the shin bone become overloaded due to repetitive exercise, often accompanied by pain in the lower leg.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid the agony of shin splints: stretching adequately prior to and post-exercise, gradually increasing running distance or intensity over time, varying routes and terrains while running, properly fitting footwear, and most importantly: allow yourself plenty of rest days between workouts. If you feel pain during your run, it’s sensible to ease off on your exercise.
With these tips (and a solid dose of rest days!), you can keep shin splints at bay and stay healthy while reaping all the rewards that come with your favorite sport!
Tips To Prevent Shin Splints Now
To get the most out of your running endeavors, make sure to consider these tips for preventing shin splints.
1. Stretching Before and After Running
Here are 3 quick warm-up stretches that can help before you run:
- Ankle pumps: Sit with your legs extended in front of you. Slowly flex and point your toes, pumping your ankles up and down. Repeat for 10-15 reps.
- Calf stretch: Stand facing a wall, step back with one foot and place the ball of your foot on the ground. Keep your heel on the ground and lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in your calf. Hold for 15-20 seconds, then switch legs.
- Shin stretches: Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Hold your ankle and gently pull your toes towards your knee until you feel a stretch in your shin. Hold for 15-20 seconds, then switch legs.
Here are 3 quick cool-down stretches that can help after your run:
- Toe raises: Standing up, raise up on the ball of your foot and hold for a second. Lower your heel back down and repeat for 15-20 reps.
- Seated ankle dorsiflexion: Sit on the edge of a chair or bench and extend one leg in front of you. Use your hand to gently pull your toes towards your shin until you feel a stretch in the front of your ankle. Hold for 15-20 seconds, then switch legs.
- Tippy-Toe Walk: Walk on your toes for a short distance, then walk on your heels for the same distance. Repeat for a couple of times.
It’s important to note that stretching should never be painful and that you should be warmed up before doing any stretches, a short walk or dynamic stretching can help with that. Also, always consult with your doctor or physical therapist if you have any concerns about your injury or exercise routine.
2. Wear proper running shoes with good arch support and cushioning.
When it comes to running shoes, there are a few key features that can help prevent or minimize pain from shin splints:
- Cushioning: Shoes with good cushioning can help absorb the impact of running and reduce stress on the shins.
- Arch support: Shoes with good arch support can help prevent overpronation (rolling in of the feet) which can contribute to shin splints.
- Heel-toe drop: A low heel-toe drop (the difference in height between the heel and the toe of the shoe) can help reduce the stress on the shins.
- Motion control: Shoes with motion control features can help control excessive pronation and provide extra stability for the feet.
- Flexibility: Shoes that are flexible can help your foot to move naturally and reduce the stress on the shins.
It’s important to note that what works for one person may not work for another, so it’s good to try different types of shoes and find the one that works best for you. It’s also important to have your running gait and foot mechanics evaluated by a professional, like a podiatrist or physical therapist, before you buy running shoes.
3. Cross-train with low-impact exercises such as cycling or swimming to reduce stress on your legs.
This is a great option for those go-getters who love to exercise daily, no matter if it’s raining or shining!
Running and exercising, in general, can be very therapeutic and make you feel great overall, so consider other options for training during your running “rest days”.
Doing this will allow you to keep training and moving without the pain!
4. Avoid running on hard surfaces such as concrete or asphalt.
Consider a few other alternatives, especially if you have shin splints or are more prone to getting them.
Running on the sand, dirt/grass, treadmill, tread climber, or elliptical can relieve some stress from the shin area by reducing the impact on every step.
Also, softer surfaces can be beneficial in preventing other injuries including Knee and Back injuries, as well as, be a new challenge and difficulty for some.
5. Use foam rollers or massage therapy to help loosen tight muscles in your shins.
Foam rolling is like giving your muscles a massage before and after a run!
Rolling before a run can help to loosen up tight muscles, making them more flexible and less likely to get injured. It also helps to get the blood flowing, warming up your muscles for the workout.
After a run, rolling can help to ease any soreness and stiffness, and keep the blood flowing to speed up muscle recovery. It also helps to break down any knots or adhesions in your muscles.
It’s all about listening to your body and doing what feels best for you. Some people like to roll before a run to feel more prepared, while others prefer to roll after when the muscles are warm.
Just remember, foam rolling should never be painful, and avoid rolling over any bony areas or injuries.
Rest Is The Best Remedy
If you do start to experience shin splints, rest is the best remedy to allow your body to heal.
Shin splints can lead to persistent, sharp pain that no one wants to experience.
Even if you’re an active person, getting the right amount of rest and allowing your body to recuperate is the most effective way to overcome shin splints.
Taking time out to rest helps prevent inflammation and irritation of the muscles around your tibia, leading to reduced pain and better mobility.
So if you do ever start feeling any discomfort in your shins after physical activity, remember that taking some time off is the best thing to do for a full recovery!
How To Ice The Shins To Recover From Shin Splints
Taking time to ice your shins after a workout can help you recover from shin splints and keep them from coming back.
The process requires finding a comfortable spot, getting two bags of frozen vegetables, and placing the bags on each shin for 20 minutes.
You could also use a store-bought ice wrap specifically designed for this purpose! After every 15-20 minutes of icing, take 10 minutes off to let your skin rest and regain its normal temperature.
This treatment should be done twice a day for 1-2 weeks in order to provide relief and aid with recovery.
Keeping your shins cool through proper icing will not only reduce pain but can also prevent inflammation and other future problems that may arise from shin splints.
With Proper Care, Shin Splints Will Eventually Go Away
Shin splints are no joke, and can make running more painful than it already is.
However, with some proper care, you won’t have to put your sneakers on a shelf for good.
With the right amount of rest, stretching and support for the shins and feet, you’ll soon be putting the pain in your past – and calmly jogging into the sunset like nothing ever happened!
So don’t let those pesky shin splints slow you down – take care of them now and get ready to hit your stride.