As a runner, one of the things I’m most afraid of is shin splints. These are one of the common runner’s injuries experienced, and it isn’t a good feeling! Not only is it painful and uncomfortable, but it messes up your runs and records.
The best way to avoid that pain and record ruiner is through preventing it in the first place. Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can follow to enjoy your runs more without the risk of injury. But what exactly are the ways on how to prevent shin splints?
Read on as I show you the ten most effective tips to prevent this common injury!
- 10 Effective Tips on How to Prevent Shin Splints
- 1. Do Shin Stretches
- 2. Where Should You Run?
- 3. Use the Right Shoes
- 4. Get Proper Rest and Reduce Runs If Needed
- 5. Improve and Maintain Good Running Technique
- 6. Maintain Healthier Weight
- 7. Increase Your Running Intensity Slowly
- 8. Cross Train While Running
- 9. Use Orthotics If Needed
- 10. See a Doctor and Diagnose Your Pain
- Wrapping It Up
10 Effective Tips on How to Prevent Shin Splints
If you’ve ever experienced your shins throbbing and aching after runs, then you most likely have shin splints. Also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, the main cause is a lot of stress and pressure put on the shinbone and its connective tissues. As a result, they become inflamed and painful.
To keep away from this injury, follow these ten helpful tips:
1. Do Shin Stretches
One of the main causes of shin splints is due to NOT warming up and cooling down properly, or at all! It’s crucial to strengthen not just your shins, but your calf and hip muscles as well.
Stretch the posterior tibial muscles by placing your toes on the edge of a club or stairs, raising your body on its toes then dropping slowly. Hold this for up to 20 seconds and repeat three to five times, stretching your feet and calf muscles.
Stretch your anterior tibial muscles by standing on one foot while your stretching for is behind, with your toes on the ground. Pull your leg forward until you feel the stretch, holding it for up to half a minute per leg.
Stretch your hip muscles and shin splints by lying on one side, feet together. Rotate your hip outward and back again, repeating this 20 times.
2. Where Should You Run?
When you run on tough or hard surfaces, it puts a lot of pressure on your joints, bones, and muscles. If you run on concrete a lot, then you may want to change that. Instead, opt to run on softer dirt trails or grass, especially for those who run long distances.
Because I can’t find softer surfaces when out, I use the treadmill at least once a week to prevent adding too much pressure on my feet on concrete. I also try to go on tracks, whenever possible.
3. Use the Right Shoes
Another reason why people get shin splints is due to the shoes they own! It may not be supportive enough or isn’t even made for running in the first place. With that said, it’s crucial to get the supportive running shoes according to your arch and foot type.
I recommend that you get properly cushioned shoes to prevent it from aggravating your shin splints. You can even find the best running shoes for shin splints if this has been a long-term problem!
4. Get Proper Rest and Reduce Runs If Needed
Beginners are prone to shin splints because of the pressure that shocks their bones, muscles, and joints! If you overwork them, it can result in injuries.
For those who still begin running, it’s important to get your rest days, taking breaks between running days than to run consecutively. For more experienced runners, make sure to get once or two rest days a week. This allows your entire body to heal and recover, keeping injuries to zero.
If the shin splints still happen, you might want to reduce your runs or replace runs with a lower-intensity workout.
5. Improve and Maintain Good Running Technique
The way you run may make or break your body! With the wrong running technique, it can have you prone to more injuries, including shin splints.
So when you run, do not run on your toes or heel strike. When landing on your heels, it ends up stressing your lower legs. Toe running can also overwork the calf muscles, leading to shin splints. I recommend that you land on the middle of your foot, rolling through to the front of the toes. It might be difficult to get used to, but it will improve the way you run!
Besides this, I recommend you watch your stride length and keep it shorter. This reduces the caches of shin splints while having you run even faster!
6. Maintain Healthier Weight
Did you know that when your feet hit the ground when running, it received a shock of about 2.5 times MORE than your bodyweight? Meaning, the heavier you are, the more shock and pressure you put on your feet when running.
That’s why it’s important to maintain a HEALTHY weight, which puts less pressure on your feet while helping avoid shin splints. If you are overweight, consider brisk walks before running and have a healthy diet with lower caloric intake.
If you’re wondering what to eat, make sure everything is in moderation and within your caloric goal. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and other natural foods work best for your overall health AND runs.
Other than that, increase our calcium and vitamin D intake as well, getting it from milk and yogurt. These strengthen your bones for fewer chances of injuries like shin splints. Also, avoid losing too much weight though, which affects your energy and other matters that damage your performance.
7. Increase Your Running Intensity Slowly
This is a great way to prevent shin splints, as increasing your running intensity too quickly can lead to overpressure. Besides, doing too much activity too fast is a common running mistake, which causes other overuse injuries besides shin splints!
To avoid this, start increasing your speed and distance slowly but surely. Do a 20-minute walk-run combo every other day. Afterward, increase the distance 5-10% a week, focusing more on distance than speed. Only once you’re able to run straight and work up a distance is when you can begin increasing the speed!
8. Cross Train While Running
As mentioned, the impact of running shocks your feet and the overall system, so I suggest you cross-train. It’s best to pair running with other exercises which put less pressure on your joints, such as cycling or swimming. I find it better cross-training rather than running every day, which still burns calories while being less taxing on my joints.
Other than cardiovascular exercises, it’s also best to start strength training as well. Focus on strengthening not just your legs and feet, but your hips and core as well. This improves your foot strike and body mechanics, having you run better and lessen the chances of injury.
9. Use Orthotics If Needed
Do you notice you’re overpronating or heel striking? Then it might be a problem with your shoes’ orthotics. Remove your shoe’s regular foam liner and use a plastic orthotic for better arch support. Such orthotics can treat and prevent shin splints, as well as other overuse injuries such as plantar fasciitis, runner’s knees, and Achilles tendinitis.
They sell these form-fitted orthotics in local running stores or are prescribed by your doctor, depending on the severity of your condition.
10. See a Doctor and Diagnose Your Pain
If ever you still suffer from overuse injuries such as shin splints, then the biomechanics might be a problem. For those who overstride, have weak muscles, or shaky stances, it might be time to get it checked by a physical therapist or podiatrist. They can help give you a diagnosis based on your form and see what contributes to your pain.
After they create a diagnosis, they’ll prescribe exercises and advice on how you can run in better form based on your gait and form. This will surely help with your runs and lessen the caches of shin splints!
Wrapping It Up
If you want to learn more about exercises you can do to prevent shin splints, check out this informative video:
Shin splints are uncomfortable and no runner wants to experience it, especially with marathons coming up! With the right tips and proper precautions, you won’t have to worry about this common running injury. That way, you can focus more on your runs and beat your records.