4 Ways to Prevent Shin Splints
Are Shin Splints Slowing You Down?
Most runners have had shin splints at some point in their life time. Shin splints are especially common among beginning runners, or in runners who are over training. Shin splints are commonly caused by over training, improper foot strike, shoes, and hard running surfaces. Below are 4 best practices to help prevent shin splints and other running injuries.
1. Rest Days
One of the main ways to help prevent shin splints and other injuries is to take a rest day and stretch your leg muscles. Resting allows the legs muscles time to heal and allows muscle swelling to be reduced. Do not expand running distances drastically from one work out to the next. Expand the running distance slowly each weak to allow the body to get used to the newly added stress.
2. Adjusting Foot Strike
The proper foot strike while running is to land on the ball of the foot. This enables the downward force of the body weight to be distributed more through the knees and then the arch of the foot. In doing so, the runner will utilize the Achilles tendon/calf muscles, which will properly distribute stress through the legs.
3. Proper Running Shoes
Many runners find it hard to change foot strike methods. Choosing an alternative shoe design could be an easy fix. Many shoe designs have thicker heels which makes heel striking a natural range of motion. Minimalist/flat shoes are more ideal for running, but the shoes should still provide enough cushion and arch support to feel comfortable. Make sure to replace running shoes when the arch and sole support are not making constant contact with the foot. It’s also important to select a shoe with little to no wiggle room as slipping/sliding within the shoe can be dangerous.
4. Avoiding Hard Surfaces
Most runners end up training on concrete which does not absorb energy as well as dirt, grass, or sand. Since not all runners can choose their running terrain, make sure to get shoes with a bit more cushion to soften the blow.
Remember to slow your pace and perfect your foot strike while running. Taking too big of strides can lead to reckless form which may cause injuries down the road. Taking a day off is not being lazy. It’s preparing the body to push harder during the next work out. If you have severe pain, make sure to contact your podiatric physician to diagnose the cause of your shin splints so you can get back to running as soon as possible.