If you run on a regular basis, there’s a good chance could develop shin splints at some point or another. Medically known as tibial stress syndrome, shin splints are one of the most common running injures that plague runners of all ages and skill levels.
So what can you do to prevent this painful sports injury that can plague your lower leg? We delve into the causes of shin splints and how to recover from them below. We wrap things up with our advice on the best running shoes for shin splints.
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Shin splints are characterized by a throbbing pain in the shins, especially during and after intense exercise. For runners, this condition that causes shin pain can be linked to other injuries such as plantar fasciitis or flat feet.
Though they’re a problem for athletes in many sports, runners are particularly familiar with them. As the legs pound against the ground, the muscle is slowly pulled away from the bone because of the stress.
Runners most commonly experience shin splints on the front of their shin bone. However, it’s also common on the sides of the shin. Still others experience the pain on the back of their shins, although this is fairly uncommon.
If you’re experiencing shin splints for the first time as a runner, it’s smart to visit a doctor for an expert opinion. Your doctor will let you know whether the pain you’re experiencing is actually from shin splints or if it’s being caused by a more serious problem like a fracture. In some cases, they’ll perform an x-ray to rule out a stress fracture and other issues.
It’s hard to avoid shin splints. If you’re a runner, chances are you’ll face off against this injury at some point in your running career. Luckily, there is a lot you can do to prevent them from occurring.
The number one cause of shin splits is a poor fitting shoe. If your shoe does properly fit your foot, it will cause undue stress on your legs while you run. The same goes for a shoe that is worn well past its expiration date. Old shoes slip and slide increasing the stress that causes painful shin splints.
We’re not saying you need to invest in the most expensive training shoes on the market. What we are saying, however, is that you need a shoe that fits well and is in good condition. Invest in a shoe specifically designed for those that suffer from shin splints and you’re even better off.
In addition to poor quality shoes, shin splints have a number of other causes. If changing shoes doesn’t fix the problem, it’s time to look at these. Other causes of shin splints include poor running technique, increasing the intensity or duration of exercise too quickly, poor flexibility, running downhill too frequently, and even training while tired.
The best way to recover from shin splints is to take a break from running.
Luckily, a week or two of rest will allow the anterior shin to recover naturally. You can still engage in low-stress activities like walking, bicycling, and swimming, but you must avoid activities that could cause additional stress on your shins.
Serious cases of shin splints might need additional treatment. Icing your shins to reduce swelling and keeping them elevated is generally all that is needed. You can also take over-the-counter pain medication to reduce pain.
Don’t rush back into physical activity too quickly. Wait until your shin splints are fully healed before you start running again. And when you do start running again, ease into it slowly. There’s no reason to get reinjured and go back to square one yet again.
During recovery, you should consider the cause of your shin splints. Were you training too hard? Trying to do too much too soon? Or do you simply need to invest in a new pair of shoes? Whatever the cause of your injury, it’s important to pinpoint it, so it doesn’t affect you again.
Rest assured that most cases of shin splints recovery naturally. A doctor’s visit or surgery is very rarely required. The only case where you might need surgery is if the muscle completely detaches from the bone.
Okay – so you got shin splints and don’t want to get them again. What kind of running shoe can you purchase to reduce the chances?
First and foremost, it boils down to fit. The make and model of running shoe you buy doesn’t matter if the shoe fits poorly. So head down to your local running store for an in-person measurement by a professional. You can then use this measurement to buy shoes in house or buy the correct size online.
Look for running shoes with additional support and cushioning. These are often marketed as shin splint running shoes. Not only will the extra support/cushioning help prevent shin splints in the future, it will also help you if you’re recovering from a current case of them.
A number of other factors affect the best running shoes for shin splints. Chief among these are your running technique, preferred running surface, and the frequency at which you train. It’s essential to choose a running shoe that best matches your technique and the surface you run on. If you run several miles on a daily basis, you might even want to invest in two pairs of shoes upfront.
In addition to running shoes, there are several other pieces of running gear and equipment that can help prevent shin splits. If you’re regularly plagued by the problem, despite quality running shoes, compression socks can help. They increase the blood flow in your legs, reducing undue stress.
A shin splint compression wrap or shin splint taping is another way to prevent stress.
Shin splints are all but impossible to avoid. As a runner, you’re sure to experience this painful injury at least once. Yet investing in the best running shoes, training smart, and adapting your technique to reduce stress will enable you to run for far longer without developing shin splits.