How To Prevent Shin Splints
Also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, ‘shin splints’ refers to the pain you get along the front of your shin anywhere between the knee and ankle. It can range from a mild ache to debilitating pain that may derail your workout efforts. But don’t let this common running conundrum stop you in your tracks. The best treatment is prevention, so here are some simple ways to keep your shins strain free:
INCREASE YOUR DISTANCE SLOWLY
Whether you’ve just signed up for your first marathon or simply want to run 10km, it’s important to increase your distance slowly. This is because your muscles, bones, and tendons need time to adapt to the new load. Too much too soon is one of the biggest causes of shin splints.
To avoid this, follow the 10 per cent rule, where you increase your distance or time spent running by no more than 10% from the week before.
ADDRESS POOR TECHNIQUE
Running involves so many body parts working in tandem. If one part is out of alignment, another area takes up the slack which may lead to pain or overuse injuries.
Having your running style assessed by a professional can give you insight into your stride length, posture, and fine-tune your technique and running efficiency.
ROLL OUT MUSCLE TIGHTNESS
Overly tight calves and tight hip flexors (front of the hip) are a common cause of shin splints. Release tight hip and leg by stretching and foam rolling after your run, and book in for occasional massages, which can provide further benefit.
VARY YOUR RUNNING SURFACE
Concrete delivers the most shock of any surface to a runner’s legs, which is unfortunate for city dwellers who run the streets. The extra load increases your risk of injury, so try to vary the surface you run on as much as possible.
Treadmills provide a slightly cushioned base which will help absorb some of the impact of running, however grass or earthy trails offer the best shock absorbers so are much easier on your muscles and joints.