Idenitfy Shin Splints

Shin splints rank high among the most common running injuries; particuarly for newer runners. They usually present as dull aches down along the front or even along the sides of your lower legs. You can usually activate your shin muscles and feel this pain if you think you have splints by dorsa flexing or, pointing your toes up towards your knees. The pain you feel is due to inflammation and tiny tears in the muscles that are attached to your tibia or ‘shin’ bones from below the knees to above the ankles. Due to the nature of this injury, splints typically worsen as your run progresses.

Common Causes

There are many possible causes for shin splints and like many running injuries, to begin the diagnosis to determine root cause in any individual case it can be very useful to separate the possible causes into two different categories by runner level:

  1. Beginner runner
  2. Seasoned runner

Beginner Runners

When newer runners experience shin pain, they are most commonly attributed to a combination of newness of the sport and its impacts on the body as well as poor running technique . Poor running technique in a nutshell is running as if you were speed walking by extending your feet out in front of your body and striking the ground with your heels as your toes tend to point upwards. Some new runners will also start running with whatever footwear they have in their possession including old trail or tennis shoes with little to no cushioning and support early on when you might need it most. Add to this the extra ingredient of running on sidewalks which even hurts to watch someone do!

Seasoned Runners

Why might shin splints suddenly occur in runners who have run successfully without experiencing this pain for months or even years? The answer most commonly lies in a number of possibilities including sudden changes in footwear, running surface or even rushed attempts at changing running technique . The barefoot running movement and its popularity with veteran runners has been a pretty common cause for injury simply because not enough time for adaptation is allowed before running shoeless.

Manage Shin Splints

Immediately after your run aim to immerse your shins in cold by covering them with baggies of ice or frozen vegetables for a minimum of 20 minutes. Ideally, during a shower run ice cold water on your lower legs for at least a minute and alternate with hotter water to promote fresh blood flow for recovery. Continue this regiment after every run until your shin pain subsides. If your shin pain persists, you may have to consider some time off before resuming running. Obviously, it’s important to consider the possible causes from above and aim to change those variables. For example, go back to a shoe or running surface that you previously had no pain on.

A strengthening/flexibility exercise that you could perform even at your desk is dorsa flexion reps (pointing your toes towards your knees) and holding for 5 to 10 seconds.

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