How to Avoid Shin Splints – Do you know about ‘Shin Splints’? It’s one of the most painful injuries out there. And it affects more people than you think. Shin splints can occur in a number of ways, and there are some specific stretches to help prevent it. If you’re reading this from your phone or tablet, scroll down for a list of exercises to prevent shin splints. I’ve compiled a list of preventive measures for shin splints that can help avoid shin splint pain and get back on your feet.
Shin splints are a very common form of injury resulting from running and other weight-bearing exercises. To help prevent shin splints, it is important to stretch and strengthen the muscles in the lower leg, which will then allow you to go farther and faster without injuries and pain.
Table of Contents
- 1 Gradually Increase Mileage
- 2 Run on Softer Surfaces
- 3 Take Time to Rest
- 4 Cross Train
- 5 Get the Right Running Shoes
- 6 Try Strength Training
- 7 Check Your Form
- 8 Stretch Your Calves
- 9 Change Out Your Footwear
- 10 Wear Compression Socks
- 11 Take Time to Rest
- 12 Develop More Lower Leg Strength
- 13 Don’t Always Train In Spikes
- 14 Proper Sprinting Mechanics
- 15 Conclusion
Gradually Increase Mileage
Shin splints are considered an overuse injury because they usually occur when runners (especially for those who are new to running) increase their mileage or intensity too quickly and do not allow for recovery time.
The important thing is not to run through the pain. Listen to your body and cut back on running when you begin to feel pain. Medical experts suggest that you should not return to running until you have been pain-free for two weeks.1How to Start Running Again After You’ve Taken a Breakhttps://5b110c68f12619c00e86e0b715da4999.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html2
Run on Softer Surfaces
Running on hard surfaces, such as concrete, can put a lot of extra stress on your muscles, joints, and bones.2 It’s important to vary your running surfaces. Try running on grass or dirt trails, especially if you’re planning a longer run. You may want to opt for a treadmill run once or twice a week. Running on a treadmill is easier on your body than running on the roads or sidewalks.3
Take Time to Rest
When you’re first starting out, try to avoid running two days in a row. A rest day will limit the pounding on your muscles, joints, and bones and give your body a chance to recover. Even if you’re an experienced runner, taking at least one or two days off from running each week reduces your risk of shin splints and other overuse injuries.3Why Athletes Need Rest and Recovery After Exercise4
Use some of your days off from running for rest. But for others, consider cross-training with a sport that puts less pressure on your shins. This could be low-impact aerobic exercises, such as swimming, biking, cross country skiing, or aqua jogging.Cross Training Exercises and Workouts for Athletes5
Get the Right Running Shoes
Wearing the wrong shoes can also lead to shin splints, so check your shoes to see if you might need more stability or cushion.1 Get advice from an expert at a running specialty store to make sure you’re wearing the right running shoes. Running experts can examine your gait, the structure of your feet, and the wear on your current running shoes to find the best fit.
Also, replace your running shoes every 350 to 500 miles. Running in shoes that have lost their cushioning is one of the most common causes of shin splints. You can also try inserting over-the-counter shoe inserts so that your calves don’t have to stretch as far.36
Try Strength Training
If you experience shin pain when running, it may be because of weak anterior tibialis muscles, which run along the front side of your lower leg. This muscle is responsible for flexing the foot at the ankle (drawing the toes toward your knee). You may start feeling pain in this area if you’re new to running or you increase your distance too quickly.
Doing simple exercises such as heel raises or toe raises can help strengthen your calf and shin muscles, which can help prevent shin pain. Doing these exercises post-run will also give you a nice stretch.2
How to Do Toe Raises
Toe raises are very easy to do. You don’t need any special equipment and you can do them anywhere. Do them a few times a week to develop your anterior tibialis muscles and prevent shin splints. Here’s what to do:
- Stand upright on the edge of a step, with your toes hanging over the edge.
- Hold onto a wall, railing, or chair for balance.
- Extend your toes as far out over the edge as you can. Only your heels should be on the edge.
- Pull your toes on your right foot upward toward your shins as far as you can and hold for a brief second, feeling the contraction in your shins (anterior tibialis).
- Release and slowly lower your toes to the starting position.
- Do the same thing with your left foot.
- Do two to three sets of 12 repetitions on each side.
How to Do Heel Raises
To do heel raises:
- Stand with feet hip-distance apart.
- Hold on to a chair or wall for support.
- Lift the heels off the floor and hold for two counts. You’ll feel the gastrocnemius (calf muscle) tighten.
- Slowly lower and repeat.
To increase strength and stability, heel raises can also be done one leg at a time.At-Home Strength Training for Runners7
Check Your Form
Changing your footstrike may help you to avoid shin splints. Try to avoid heel striking or toe running and instead try to land on the middle of the foot. Ideally, you should land mid-sole and then roll through and push off through the front of the toes.
While the practice is common, landing on your heels can cause stress in the lower leg. Similarly, landing on your toes can stress the gastrocnemius (calf muscle). Both of these footstrike patterns can contribute to shin splints and other injuries.
Use these tips to practice landing on your mid-foot:
- Monitor your form. Keep your arm swing low and short, so your feet stay underneath you and close to the ground. You don’t want to feel like your feet are reaching too far in front with every step (called over striding). Try to keep your steps light and quick, as if you’re stepping on hot coals.
- Run barefoot. Consider running on grass, turf, or even carpet in socks or without shoes for short periods of time. When you run barefoot, you are more likely to land on the middle of the foot, so this practice may help you find a healthier footstrike pattern. Start with 30 second-intervals and work your way up to a minute or more.
- Practice drills. Running drills can help you to practice mid-foot landing. You can incorporate butt kicks, high knees, side shuffles, or backward running into your warm up. These movements encourage mid foot striking.
If you are not sure whether your form is a factor in your shin pain, it might help to work with a coach who can evaluate your form and provide advice.8
Stretch Your Calves
If you feel mild shin pain as you’re running stop and do a quick calf stretch. If it’s not mild pain or it’s getting worse as you continue running, you should stop.1
Make sure you’re also stretching your calves after your workouts. If your calves are really tight, massage them using a foam roller or other massage tool. Even just five minutes of self-massage after a run can make a big difference. Or treat yourself to a professional sports massage.
Change Out Your Footwear
Runners are some of the most common sufferers of shin splints; this is because there is a considerable amount of impact and force being placed on your lower extremities during this activity. Studies Have shown that there is a link between over-pronation to this uncomfortable condition. With that being said, when you run for long distances, it is essential that your shoes provide you with proper support. While that may mean throwing out your favorite pair of running shoes, your shins will thank you.
This is especially important if you have flat feet. In this case, you may benefit from using orthotics for additional support. Shoe inserts can help to keep your foot and ankle in proper alignment while you run, reducing strain on the lower half of your leg and minimizing your chances for experiencing shin splints.
Wear Compression Socks
Stox compression socks keep the calf muscles tight against the tibia, making them shake less back and forth while running. However, Stox Energy’s Running Socks go a step further than “normal” running socks. These special running socks ensure that your leg muscles have optimal blood circulation while running. They also have a shock-absorbing effect, which drastically reduces muscle damage to the legs. Thanks to the compression, the leg muscles get enough oxygen and waste and moisture are quickly removed.
Take Time to Rest
When you’re first starting out, try to avoid running two days in a row. A rest day will limit the pounding on your muscles, joints, and bones and give your body a chance to recover. Even if you’re an experienced runner, taking at least one or two days off from running each week reduces your risk of shin splints and other overuse injuries.
Develop More Lower Leg Strength
Additionally, studies demonstrate that runners with bigger and stronger calf muscles have a lower risk of developing tibial stress fractures. Since tibial stress fractures can be the result of shin splints that haven’t been addressed, it makes sense that strengthening your calves may also help runners and walkers avoid medial tibial stress syndrome.
Consider working the following strength exercises into your exercise routine to help strengthen those calves and the surrounding muscles in order to prevent shin splints:
Standing with your feet slightly apart, raise up onto your toes, pause for 2 seconds, and lower back down. Complete two sets of 15 repetitions.
Standing on your tiptoes, walk forward 15 yards. Complete two sets of 15 yards.
Lie down with your legs straight out in front of your body and your toes pointed toward the sky. In a pumping motion, point your toes back towards your body and then back to the original position. Complete two sets of 20 repetitions.
Standing on a stair or elevated platform, put your weight on your right foot while lowering your right heel past 90 degrees. Slowly raise back up and repeat before switching sides. Complete two sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
Improve Your Form
While exercise is typically good for your physical health, incorrect form and technique can be detrimental, causing shin splints and other injuries. If you are continuing to experience shin pains while following the previous tips, it may be worth having your form looked at by a sports medicine doctor or a physical therapist so they can help you to correct these issues.
Don’t Always Train In Spikes
If you train many times a week using spikes then you are putting your shins and calves under a lot of pressure.
Spikes are not built to provide the foot with a lot of support. Therefore constant use every session can lead to chronic injuries such as shin splints.
Spikes should only be worn during sets performed at or close to competition speed. Work performed below this intensity should be performed in trainers or even barefoot.
Proper Sprinting Mechanics
Proper sprinting mechanics can help prevent shin splints. In general, athletes often hit the ground too hard. Their foot-to-ground contact time is too long and/or they hit the ground with the wrong part of the foot.
which makes a very distinct sound.
While sprinting on a track, if there is a ‘thud’ with every foot strike, then you are hitting the ground too hard. Doing this repeatedly is sure to lead to shin splints or another kind of injury. Your spikes should scrape the surface of the track as you want your leg cycle to be as rapid as possible.
Shin splints is a condition affecting runners. The condition results in pain in the lower leg, which is caused by inflammation on the tibia bone. Shin splints may not be severe but it can hinder your athletic performance which may cause you to have to take time of injured.