Shin splints is the pain that you feel along the shin bone or the tibia, which is the largest bone on the front of the lower leg. You will feel the pain on the front side of the shin or the back of the shin. The pain radiates along the inner edge of the shinbone. They are caused if there is repetitive stress on the shinbone and connective tissues that attach bone to the muscles.
Who Commonly Experiences Shin Splits?
They are common in runners, military recruits and dancers. They occur if you recently changed or intensified training routines. The increased activity will overwork the tendons, muscles and bone tissue.
You can also get shin splits if you have flat feet or high arches. You can feel the pain if you run on uneven terrains such as hard surfaces, hills or concrete.
10 Tips to Prevent Shin Splints
You can treat most cases of shin splints with proper rest and ice therapy. Here are other tips that help you prevent shin splints or reduce the pain.
- Wear Proper Shoes
Shin splits will worsen if you wear ill-fitting shoes. Buy the right pair of shoes to run. Speak to a physical therapist if you are not sure which shoes to buy. If you run often, it may be a good idea to replace the shoes frequently. Check the shoes for stability and cushioning. You can use over-the-counter shoe inserts to makes sure your calves don’t have to stretch as far.
You can also use copper infused compression socks to keep the blood flowing in your legs and feet. It will help in proper blood circulation, which helps in reducing the pain.
- Identify Movement Patterns
Shin splints occur when you run or jump incorrectly. Even if your landing techniques are not correct, you can suffer from shin splits.
Take the help of a physical therapist to understand your movement patterns. Ask them how you can improve your exercise techniques for shin splits relief.
- Use Arch Supports
You can get shin splits if you have flat arches. In such cases, using the arch supports will prevent the pain of shin splits. You can take the stress off the lower legs by lifting the arch with insoles.
- Strengthen Hip Muscles
The hip muscles absorb most of the pressure and the shock on the legs when you run or do some physical exercise. By strengthening the hip muscles you can prevent shin splits. Consult with a physical therapist to learn exercises that will strengthen the hip muscles.
- Check Your Form
Running with the correct form is one of the best things for shin splits. You should land mid-sole and roll to the front of the toes. Never land on the heels as it will create a lot of impact and stress on the lower legs. This will lead to shin splits.
Do not land on the toes also as it will overwork your calf muscles. It won’t just cause shin splits but also overuse injuries.
If you are not sure if your form is correct or not, consult a running coach.
- Exercise on Softer Surfaces
Running on concrete and other hard surfaces will increase the stress and impact on the joints, muscles, and bones. Running and exercising on softer surfaces like grass and dirt trails will be better for your legs.
You can also increase your mileage and intensity slowly on softer surfaces. Try to run on a treadmill as they are softer as compared to hard grounds.
- Do Exercises for Shin Splits
Some exercises help in preventing shin splits. These include:
- Toe curl
- Monster Walk
- Point and Flex
- Single-Legged Bridge
- Heel Drop
- Toe Walk
- Get Enough Rest
If you have just started running, avoid running two days in a row. Give yourself enough rest and recovery time. Having a rest day limits the pressure and stress on the joints, muscles, and bones. It will give your body a chance to recover from the activity.
You can get shin splits even if you are an experienced runner. Take at least a day or two off each week from running.
- Stretch the Calves
When you start experiencing pain in your shins while exercising or running, do a quick calf stretch. You must stretch your calves after every exercise session. Use a foam roller to massage the calves. Do a self-massage or seek the services of a professional sports masseuse.
- Don’t Increase Intensity Too Quickly
If you increase the intensity or mileage of running too quickly and do not give any rest time, shin splits will occur.
In such cases, stop running for a few days. Do not run through the pain as it will worsen the condition. It is important that you listen to your body and slow down when it is hurting. Do some strength training to strengthen the lower muscles.
Do stretches for shin splits like calf stretches to relieve some pain. However, do not overstretch as it will strain the muscles. Ease into the gradually.
Shin splits are a common problem when you first start running or exercising. However, with the right techniques you can prevent them.