Runners Worst Enemy…Shin Splints. What Are They, How To Prevent and Treat Them
Running and shin splints…to words that seem to come hand in hand. Shin splints have been named one of the most common injuries amongst runners, they are the cause of 13% of all running injuries according to this article from WebMd.
With this being said, we know this unfortunately may be an injury many of our ProForm treadmill buyers will come across one day. So we want make sure you all have the knowledge in knowing how to prevent a shin splint, as well as how to treat a shin splint injury in the unfortunate case you do experience one.
What Is a Shin Splint?
First of all let’s go over exactly what a shin splint is. A shin splint in general term is a dull shooting pain on your shin, the front of your lower leg starting at your ankle and continuing up almost to your knee cap. Shin splints are due to an imbalance between muscles that lift the foot and those that pull it down.
They are often triggered by irritated and swollen muscles often caused by over used. Runners often get them because of the stretch they are placing on their shins while the impact of each step causing the arch of your foot to collapse.
How to Prevent Shin Splints.
Now that we know what exactly we are dealing with here, let’s go over some ways from running.about .com to help prevent shin splints from happening to you:
- Don’t increase your speed or incline too quickly. This means not only during your current exercise, but during your whole training program as well. If you increase your speed, intensity or incline too quickly you are causing overuse to happen too quickly, not allowing your muscles any time to recover or adapt. Use the 10% rule when training, don’t increase your mileage or intensity by more than 10% each week.
- Get the right running shoes. Use this guide here to help you find the right running shoes for your particular runs. Be sure to have shoes with flexible soles that twist and bend, otherwise your feet and shins are fighting them with each step. You’ll also want to make sure you do not have a built-up heel, this will also cause unnecessary pressure on your shins. Be sure to also replace your running shoes that have lost their cushioning and there soles wear out, this will lead to shin splints as well. Roughly every 300-500 miles is a good estimate.
- Strengthen your muscles with calf exercises. Doing heel and toe raises can help to strengthen and build you calf and shin muscles to improve their flexibility. Having both strong calf and shin muscles helps to set the balance of power between the two muscles, helping them work together.
- Always be sure to warm up. Warm up with a walk or light jog to get blood flowing to your muscles, especially your lower leg muscles. Warm muscles are less likely to suffer injury than cold muscles. Some even swear by wearing compression sleeves or socks over their shins to prevent shin splints.
How To Treat Shin Splints.
Even using these prevention tips, you may unfortunately still come across a shin splint one day, it’s the risk runners take. So here are some tips to help treat them so they can be short lived:
- Slow your speed. Many like to think if they just continue their run at the same speed and incline that the pain will work itself out and eventually go away. This is not the case with shin splints. Continuing to run at a high intensity or up a steep incline is only going to risk further pain, and worse further damage. Slow down your speed and decrease your incline until the pain stops.
- Ice and tape your shin. Icing the shin is going to help reduce pain and swelling. Do so for about 15 minute time intervals. Taping your shin or wrapping with an Ace bandage will also help to compress the muscle and permit less muscle movement.
- Take 2 aspirin. Many over-the-counter analgesics, such as ibuprofen help to bring down the swelling and inflammation that arise with these injuries, as well as relieve the pain.
- Give it a rest. Giving your shins a rest will help them to recover faster, as well as help reduce the risk of further injury such as stress fractures which is a tiny chip or crack in the shin bone. These are a more serious case and will not go away on their own without doctor treatment.
Now we sure hope you never have to experience a shin splint, and hope our prevention tips due you some good, but be prepared and know how to treat one quick if they ever do arise.
Written By: Jentry