Shin splints are a painful condition that commonly affects runners. The experienced team of experts at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine specializes in preventing and treating musculoskeletal wear-and-tear injuries of the lower extremities, including shin splints.
Here’s what you need to know about reducing your risk of developing shin splits:
1. Wear the right shoes
Ill-fitting or worn-out shoes can contribute to shin splints and other lower leg injuries. When choosing your running shoes, ensure they provide adequate support and cushioning. You might also consider visiting a specialized running store to get professionally fitted shoes that match your foot type and running gait.
2. Gradually increase training intensity
Overuse or sudden increases in training intensity are among the leading causes of shin splits. Avoid the temptation to push your limits too quickly and adopt a gradual and progressive approach to your running routine. Adding a little more distance or speed to your run on a weekly basis gives your body time to adapt and reduces the risk of overloading your shin muscles and bones.
3. Always warm up and cool down
Proper warm-up and cool-down routines are essential for injury prevention. Before every run, perform dynamic stretches to warm up your muscles and increase blood flow to your lower legs. After your run, take the time to cool down by performing static stretches to promote muscle recovery and flexibility.
4. Increase leg strength
Having weak muscles in the lower legs can contribute to shin splints. By incorporating leg strengthening exercises into your training routine, you can help increase the stability and support of your lower leg muscles. Complete exercises that target your calf muscles, such as heel raises and toe curls. You can also include exercises that strengthen the hips, core, and glutes muscles to improve your running mechanics and reduce stress on your shins.
5. Add cross-training and rest days
Shin splints are caused by overuse of the muscles. You can help reduce your risk by incorporating cross-training activities into your running routine and ensuring adequate rest between workouts. Activities like swimming, cycling, or strength training can provide a break from repetitive impact and help maintain your overall fitness.
6. Maintain proper running form
Maintaining proper running form helps prevent shin splints and other running-related injuries. You can reduce the impact running has on your lower legs by landing on your midfoot rather than your heels.
Moderate to severe shin splints require resting for about two weeks to heal, which means stopping your running routine. Following these preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of developing shin splints and keep your running routine on track. If you experience shin pain or suspect you have shin splints, schedule an appointment with our team for expert care and guidance to get you back on your feet as soon as possible.