Shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome account for nearly 20% of all running related injuries (Source). Runners of all levels have been plagued by that lower leg pain and wonder what they did, how long to rest and how to fix it. As a coach I am frequently asked about shin splints. It seems that almost every runner has dealt with it to some extent.
What is a shin splint?
Pain along or just behind the shinbone (tibia) that occurs during physical activity and result from too much force being placed on your shinbone and connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone. If pain is severe it is important to see a medical provider to rule out stress fracture or other injury.
What are risk factors for shin splints?
- Running on a slanted/tilted surface
- Running downhill
- Improper or worn out shoes
- Running too hard, too fast or too long
- Flat feet or rigid arches
- Starting new programs of high impact: running, jumping
How can I prevent shin splints?
- Wear proper shoes: make sure to get fitted at a running store and change shoes as they wear out (every 300-500 miles).
- Cross train with low impact activities such as swimming or biking.
- Correct biomechanical problems. Gait analysis can determine potential problems such as stride length, foot strike, muscle imbalance.
- Vary running surface.
- Add strength training: Calf raises:
- Stand with your heels together and toes pointed out. Slowly raise up onto your toes and lower yourself back down. Repeat 10 times.
- Stand with your big toes together and heels far apart. Slowly raise up onto your toes, then lower yourself back down. Repeat 10 times.
How should I treat a shin splint?
- Rest: Avoid high impact activity but continue exercise with low impact: swimming, pool running, biking as long as it is pain free.
- Ice 10 min 2 times daily and after activity.
- Compression with calf sleeves or knee socks.
- Determine any risk factors and make changes as possible. There are times when a visit to a medical provider is warranted especially with repeated issues or continual/extreme pain.
Submitted by Jen Schomaker, Run Coordinator and RRCA Certified Coach at Life Time Fitness, Champlin. For more information on Life Time Run training programs, go to www.lifetimerun.com, or email email@example.com.