New and old runners are all prone to developing shin splints. Follow these tips to stay injury-free.
Shins don’t often hurt – unless you’re prone to bumping into sharp corners – but when they do, they hurt real bad. Shin splints are one of the most common running injuries and it takes an average of 71 days to recover, which means over two months of downtime. To prevent feeling the pain in the front of your legs, here are some preventive measures you can take.
Poor alignment and sudden intense workouts can lead to shin splints and inflammation of tight, weak muscles. Before your workout, do some leg stretches to relax your calves, knees, ankles, and feet. This will also help to warm up your legs and get them ready for exercise. If you have tight muscles, be sure to give extra attention to stretching after the workout too.
(Also read: 5 Calf Stretches That Every Runner Should Do)
Strengthen your lower body
Besides stretching to relieve tight muscles, you can also do strengthening exercises that will help your muscles to bear their own weight and pressure, taking the burden off your shins. Plyometric lunges and calf raises are just some examples of exercises you can do to prevent shin splints.
Tension in the shin can also be caused by excessive stress placed on one leg or hip due to having a dominant leg, so it is important to balance up your strength on both sides.
Don’t overdo it
Susan Joy, sports and exercise medicine physician with Cleveland Clinic Sports Health, said to Runner’s World that a jump in mileage can cause your shins to be overworked, leading to shin splints. This is a big reason why shin splints are very common among new runners – they turn up the intensity too much, too fast. You can improve distance safely by following the rule of 10, which is to increase your distance by just 10 per cent every week. Progress might be slower, but you’re less likely to injure yourself as well.
(Also read: Marie Choo’s 10 Tips on Running Your First Marathon)
Wear the right footwear
If you are an avid runner, your running shoes should be replaced about every 500km to provide adequate cushion and grip. Your choice of footwear when you are off-track can also affect your body. Hard and stiff shoes like dress shoes or high heels can cause you to feel more pain and discomfort, increasing your risk of shin splints.
(Also read: How to Choose the Right Pair of Running Shoes)
Take time to rest
Overdoing distance running and overusing your running shoes are invitations for shin splints, and so is overtraining. When pain persists, take a break before going back to your running routine. Some people try to push through and train with shin splints, but that could aggravate the condition. Ensure that you are pain-free for two weeks before returning to your routine.
(Also read: 6 Tips To Make A Running Comeback After An Injury)