Seven recommendations to reduce the possibility of getting shin splints.
Introduction: What is Shin Splints?
Runners have mostly experienced excruciating lower leg pain due to high impact activities in their lower limb. This is also experience by athletes who perform long distance hurdle jumps. The pain in the front part of the lower leg is described as shin splints.
Shin splint is a common condition faced by runners and is generally described as pain in front to the lower leg. The pain is normally described as sharp and aching in nature. Shin splints can happen in either of the following locations such as in the posterior tibial compartment, the tibial stress syndrome or in the medial tibial stress syndrome. Sometimes shin splints can also result into stress fracture of the anterior tibial plateau. One of the serious cause of shin splint is excessive ankle pronation which results into excessive shock to the tibial bone and injury to the calf muscles. Shin splint is nothing but the injury to the calf bones such as tibia and fibula and can happen due to several reasons.
Seven recommendations to avoid Shin Splints
The following are the few reasons that causes shin splints and the recommendations to avoid the shin splint injuries.
1) Improper training: It has been noted that improper training is the one of the biggest cause of shin splint. Running too fast without prior training, increasing the mileage too soon and running without improper warm ups can also result into shin splints. Therefore, it is recommended that proper training should be taken before performing long distance running.
2) Disregarding the biomechanical issues: This should be taken into consideration before going for long distance running. Excessive foot pronation, pes cavus deformity, medial or lateral tibial torsion can also be one of the factors causing shin splints. Due to improper biomechanics the torque or force produce on the tibial joint can be over excessive resulting into stress fracture. Proper insoles or shoes can also help to reduce the risk of injuries.
3) Proper strength training: Running is a high endurance exercise and therefore the runners should have adequate strength in their lower limbs before initiating the long distance running. Lack of adequate strength can put immense pressure on the anterior/posterior tibial compartment resulting into stress fracture. Sometimes post running effects such as excessive lower leg pain can be used as a rationale for improper running.
Have you suffered from Shin Splints?
4) Stretching: This is one of the most important factor before going for long distance running. Stretching is a must as it will elongate the tight muscles. Stretching programs such as static stretching or neuromuscular stretching can reduce the risk of avulsion fractures by stretching the muscle spindle and activating the impulses to combat the loading force. Furthermore, without proper stretching the joint has a tendency to get locked which might further lead to shin splints.
5) Post -running care: Studies have shown that putting ice on the shin area reduces the risk of inflammation or irritation caused by improper running. Cryotherapy or ice therapy helps to curb down the inflammation and reduce the risk of shin splints. This is a must step for long distance runners or for athletes performing high impact loading activities (that includes landing on their knees like jumping)
Shin Splint with description
Points summarized to avoid Shin Splints
- Improper training
- Biomechanical issues
- Proper strength training
- Post-running care
- Over-weight or obesity
- Running after the injury
6) Do not run when it hurts: There is a major misconception that one should exercise more when it hurts. This might be true in some cases, however, it also depends upon what kind of injury or pain one has and type of exercise one does. Unfortunately this is not true when it comes to shin splints. Shin splints can result in stress fracture of the tibia or the fibia or can cause compartmental syndrome of the lower leg. Therefore, it is a must that you rest if have shin splint pain. The basic motto i.e RICE----REST, ICE COMPRESSION AND ELEVATION IS A MUST IN SHIN SPLINT TO AVOID INFLAMMATION, SWELLING AND IRRITATION.
7) Do not run if you are overweight or obese: I know running is a good endurance exercise, however, if your BMI is in the range > 30 you should first reduce your weight before going for long distance running. Heavy weight can increase the pressure and loading on your legs which increases the risk of avulsion or stress fractures.
Basic steps to prevent Shin Splints
Pre/Post exercise care
Gastrosoleus static stretching
Ice or cryotherapy
Eccentric ankle exercises
RICE- if swelling present
Start slowly- 2times/wk
Slow and progressive
So shin splints are preventable and steps should be taken if you want to be an elite runner. Running is a great exercise, however, there are complications such as shin splints and stress fracture associated with running if done improperly. Care should be taken pre and post running in order to avoid consequences such as shin splints. If you have any concerns or questions please leave a comment below. Thank you and good luck.
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