Keep your running free of lower leg distress
Shin splints stand out as particularly unpleasant.
Thanks to the name, the mere mention of which makes most runners wince, but in truth, it's a pain that accompanies shin splints and how long it can rule you out of running. That pain can arise suddenly and then plague every step of your runs until you're forced to the sidelines for weeks or even months.
One major step to avoid shin splints is gradually building up your training load and considering moving some of your runs off hard surfaces if possible. The easy runs on your training schedule, mainly, are great on trails since you'll have no concerns about the pace and can enjoy your surroundings while giving the legs a break from paved surfaces.
What are shin splints?
Shin splint is a general term to describe pain along your shin bone. If you have shin splints, the pain may be down the front or sides of your shin. It's caused by damage to the muscles, tendons, or bone tissue around your shin.
What causes shin splints?
Myriad causes could be behind shin splints, ranging from a significant increase in your activity levels to weak muscles in the legs. Parkinson lists the potential reasons here, so check carefully to ensure you're giving yourself the best shot at staying shin splints-free.
- A change in your activity level, such as starting a new exercise plan or suddenly increasing the distance or pace you run.
- Running on hard or uneven surfaces
- Wearing poorly fitting or worn-out shoes that don't cushion and support your feet properly
- Being overweight
- Having tight calf muscles, weak ankles, or a tight Achilles tendon
- Poor core stability
- Stress fractures – small breaks in your tibia caused by stress on the bone
How do you treat shin splints?
- Use a multipurpose wrap to help relieve the pain. Velcro the wrap in place for 10-20 minutes at a time. You can repeat this several times a day.
- As you might expect, resting your legs is also an effective way to treat shin splints. You might be able to keep exercising during this spell, but in bad cases, you can rule out running for up to three months.
- Talk to a physiotherapist and discuss ways to modify your exercises to help get you running and prevent the recurring condition.
- Stretching your calf, shin, and hamstring muscles regularly and strengthening your glutes, core and quads will also help treat and prevent shin splints.
How do you avoid shin splints?
- Wear the right running shoes.
- Orthotic insoles for your shoes may also help to improve the way you run.
- Gradually build up your activity. Darebee provides a walking-to-running program that does just that.
- Listen to your body. Stop if you experience pain.
- Strengthen your glute muscles and stretch regularly.
How long will shin splints stop you from running?
Up to 12 weeks to heal properly. You can keep fit during this time by doing other activities that don't strain your legs, like swimming or a stationary bike.
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