How to Prevent Shin Splints

shin splints

If you have ever had shin splints you know they are uncomfortable and painful. They are very common among athletes, especially runners. They are characterized by pain in the front or inside aspect of the lower leg due to overexertion of the muscles. The pain usually develops as a dull ache along the front or inside of the shin. If left untreated the pain could intensify and progress to an increased risk of developing stress fractures. Shin splints usually involve small tears in the leg muscles where they are attached to the shin bone. The two types of shin splints are: anterior shin splints and posterior shin splints.

Shin splints can be caused when the anterior leg muscles are stressed by running, especially on hard surfaces or extensively on the toes, or by sports that involve jumping. Wearing athletic shoes that don’t have enough shock absorption or are worn out can also contribute to shin splints. Over-pronated (flat feet) and people with high arches are also more susceptible shin splints.

If you do get shin splints decrease your activity level until the pain subsides and do not train through them. Runners should decrease their mileage for a week and avoid hills or really hard surfaces. If a muscle imbalance, poor running form or flat feet are causing the problem, a long-term solution might involve a stretching and strengthening program and orthotics that support the foot and correct over-pronation. Icing the area immediately after running or other exercise can also be effective, along with gentle stretching before and after training.

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