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How to Prevent Shin Splints

Updated on August 1, 2009

Preventing Shin Splints

Anyone familiar with starting a new exercise routine, especially jogging or running, has probably soon after sought information on how to prevent shin splints. Shin splints suck—they’re truly one of the most aggravating pains you can experience. They produce a dull, consistent ache in your shins, and the throbbing can many times be felt all the way up and down your leg. Any throbbing that you feel in areas of your leg other than your shins can be categorized as “deferred pain”, but the epicenter of that pain is definitely the shin area. Shin splints occur when you have uneven balance between the muscles that are responsible for lifting the foot off the ground versus the muscles that cause the foot to descend back to the ground. Shin splints can actually feel like your very bones are aching, but it’s really just the thin layer of muscle that covers the shin area—literally, your shin muscles. Those muscles, if they’re not used to the stress of a regular exercise regimen, will be over-taxed for the first few weeks of your walking, jogging or running routine. This is a normal reaction of your body to the new stressors that have been placed upon an area that has not been often used to that extent. Just think about it: If all you have ever done is walk at a normal pace (i.e., not briskly), your shin muscles don’t know anything different, and they’re used to a certain amount of pressure, but that’s about it. But once you decide to start a regular walking routine—this time walking briskly—or a jogging routine, or running routine, now you’ve caused your shin muscles to “rise to the occasion”, and actually have somewhat “forced” them into performing at a level that they’re not accustomed to. The result is, in two painful words, shin splints.

Image courtesy of Microsoft Office Clip Art
Image courtesy of Microsoft Office Clip Art

Tips on How to Prevent Shin Splints

Many times shin splints can happen when you run too fast too soon, or when you run too long of a distance at first…in other words, you may be biting off more than you can chew, so to speak. Walking or running surface also can play a significant part in whether or not shin splints can rear their ugly head—the less resilient the running surface is, the more likely you are to have to deal with shin splints. For instance, concrete is a lot less forgiving than those running tracks found at high schools or public parks, most of the time because the latter surface is usually composed of a somewhat “bouncy” but firm rubber material. Also, your own weight can contribute to shin splints—the heavier you are, the more stress is placed on those lower extremities, and the more demand is placed on them to support your weight. This can lead to that dull ache in the shins. In addition, overstriding can be a big contributor to shin splints…this simply means that you make your advancing strides (putting your first foot forward) too long, and your trailing stride (bringing your other leg up from behind) not long enough. Also, the type of running or walking shoes that you use has a WHALE of a lot to do with whether you develop shin splints or not. If your shoes are too tight, or have too thick of a “wedge” at the heel, or are generally not comfortable or supportive, you will bear the brunt of that on your shins. Inadequate stretching before runs can also contribute—make sure that you stretch for a decent amount of time before jogging, running, etc. In addition, you may have to walk/run/jog every other day instead of every day, just to give your shins a much-needed rest.

Hopefully this hub provided you with a good take on how to prevent shin splints—I believe that if you use these tips, you stand a good chance of reducing the effects of excessive strain on your shins!


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    • SteadyHubs profile image

      SteadyHubs 6 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thanks rihamah. I read over your hub--very thorough and detailed! My wife is a big Asics fan, so I hear ya.

    • rihamah profile image

      rihamah 6 years ago

      Nice hub. I've written a hub about the best running shoes for shin splints, I'd appreciate it if you can take a look and leave me your feedback @