Shin splint is a painful condition (or various conditions) of the shin that occur in the inner, lower side of the leg or the outer lower side of the leg. These are inclusive of inflammation in the muscles around the shin, muscle strain, stress fractures, and/or tendinitis.
These are common among runners and appear for a number of reasons. It could be due to a change in the running terrain or surfaces, or due to starting an exercise routine after a long gap. These could also be caused by a sudden increase in the mileage of the run, thus putting too much pressure on the legs. Shin splints could also be caused in first time runners who do not do a proper warm up and then run long distances. So also, the wrong kind of footwear could also lead to this condition. When a shin splint occurs, it can take up to 5 weeks for the foot to heal completely, therefore, it is best to prevent their onset. The following are some ways that can be adopted for the prevention of this painful condition.
Points to Remember while Running
The Right Shoe
The easiest way to avoid shin splints is to choose the right kind of shoes. Don't go in for cheap shoes or shoes that are 'so cute' or 'so rugged'. Instead, buy shoes that are especially invented for heavy-duty running and jogging. Go to a reputed shoe company and get an opinion on the kind of shoes that will best suit your needs―based on your running habits (the miles, the terrain), they will provide you with a pair that is most compatible with your needs. The right shoe will protect your leg and help to avoid shin splints or any other leg injury.
Warm up is extremely essential to avoid shin splints. Do some simple stretching exercises before a run. Similarly, end your run with stretching and cool down exercises. This will help prepare the body for the exercise and will help to avoid soreness in muscles.
Do exercises that include lunges, jogging, and weight training to increase the strength of the legs so that it becomes easier to avoid shin splints.
Try and choose a flat terrain to run when you are just starting out. Do not attempt to run on steep slopes or rocky terrains before you have gained enough training to do this. Your body is not used to the sudden activity, and if you strain it with more difficult terrains then there are high chances of an injury.
Do not attempt to increase the speed or distance suddenly. If you have been running for 3 miles in a week, then don't suddenly take it to 10 miles in the next week. This will put tremendous force and pressure on your leg and probably lead to shin splints. As a general rule, one should increase their distance by 10% of the last week's highest distance.
Choose the Surface Well
Choose the surface you will be running on after careful consideration. Concrete and asphalt are extremely hard and provide zero shock absorption. The better choice would be to find a cinder path.
It is difficult for the body to take so much pressure for prolonged periods. It is essential to allow the body proper rest so that it can rejuvenate and correct the muscle wear and tear incurred during running. Do not run more than 4 times a week. The rest of the days try other forms of exercises. It is essential that you practice this because once you incur an injury and you do not take preventive measures so that there is no relapse, you become more susceptible to having them.
Points to Remember while Walking
- During power walking, try to push the weight to the back of the leg rather than the front. Keep the strides in the front relatively short and focus more on keeping the strides longer at the back.
- Wear shoes that can bend and twist in accordance with your action.
- If they are hard and unbendabl, then change the shoes to a better pair that have no heels and are flat.
- Change your shoes after every 400-500 miles. By this time, the shoes lose their cushioning and cannot protect the leg muscles any more.
- Do shin exercises that will increase calf muscle strength so that they become strong and prevent shin splints.
- Do not walk on concrete as it does not provide any sort of shock absorption. Instead, select paths that include grass, cinder or dirt.
- Run ice over your shins before and after you run. Ice them for 15-20 minutes.
- Always do some warm up exercises and stretching before and after exercises.
Follow all the points that are mentioned in this article about how to avoid shin splints, and safeguard yourself against future injuries.