Shin Splints and running? They are almost always a “nasty” combination that runners want to avoid but because of bad habits in running almost always cannot avoid. This indeed is a painful injury especially if you still plan to run even if you have the condition. So, if you are looking for an article to read that can help you prevent shin splints while exercising, then read on.
Shin Splint 101
Shin splint is an injury that both a newbie runner or a seasoned marathoner can get. Shin splints hinder training and can slow a runner down because of the constant pain. It is technically called as Tibia Stress Syndrome or MTSS. But they are commonly known as shin splints because of where the pain is located.
Shin splints are one of the most common injuries active runners get. Athletes, gymnasts, ballers and even dancers are prone to such injury.
What are the Symptoms?
Do not ignore early symptoms of shin splints. If ignored, they can become more debilitating and cause you to suffer much more thereby prevent you from running again. Major symptoms include:
- Burning lower leg pain
- Throbbing sensation after running
- Pain along the shinbone or behind it
- Dull ache in front of the lower leg
- Pain that you feel during the exercise
- Muscle pain
- Soreness along the inner part of the leg
- Pain on either side of the shin bone
What are the Known Causes?
It is not just about running. But beginner runners are MORE prone to get shin splints. Getting too excited to run or exercise is the major cause of shin splints for newbie runners. Don’t just jump into running without proper stretching. If you think that running is just “running” well, you are wrong. That is why even marathoners train for their big day. They just don’t run during the event itself. They build mileage and train for it. Gradually, over time, you strengthen your leg muscles and its surrounding muscles.
Regular runners are also prone to shin splints. This happens when you increase your mileage too early or when you add more speed (or sprints) to your routine, or if you add hill repetitions to your routines too early.
Shifting running areas can also cause shin splints. Changing from dirt, to asphalt, to cement or to a hilly surface can also cause shin splints. Improper running attire can lead to this condition as well. Flat footed runners are also more prone to this type of injury.
In terms of which sports activities, aside from running, are more prone to giving an athlete shin splints include football, volleyball, basketball, baseball, tennis and all other sports which involve a lot of sudden starts and stops. Which means, those who are physically active are prone to having them.
But if you cannot but run or play your favorite sport, you can still prevent shin splint while running with these 5 exercises:
1. Calf Raises
One way of preventing shin splints is through strengthening your calf muscles. The calves are the largest muscles in the lower leg. They help stabilize the tibia. They promote stability in the leg. Having strong calves adds speed to your running and gives you proper running form.
You can do this exercise with your feet shoulder apart and straight knees as a starting position. It is optional to hold a chair of the wall to balance yourself. Raise your heel as high as possible and pause for about 3-5 seconds then slowly lower your legs down flat on the floor.
To level up this exercise, do single leg calf raises instead.
2. Heel and Toe Walk
This exercise strengthens the lower leg muscles and improves balance. It is just like walking but exaggerating it. While gazing on something in front of you, take a step forward while keeping your balance. Put your heel in front of your other foot’s toe. Exaggerate the heel raising and ankle movement. Walk slowly from one point to another.
3. Heel Drop
Since shin splints are usually felt because of heel drops while running, the heel drop exercise strengthens your muscles on the calf muscles by making in contract. Start this exercise by standing with the ball of your feet on a step (or on the first step of your stairs). Shift your weight to the other leg on tip toes. Make sure that you do not bend your knees. Then lower your heel. Repeat process for the other foot.
4. Wall Shin Raises
This exercise stretches the Achilles and can help prevent shin splint. With your back on the wall and your feet a shoulder length apart, extend your toes and lift them as high as you can while shifting your weight to your heels. Hold for 3-5 seconds then slowly lower your toes. Do 3 sets of 12 repetitions.
5. Toe Curls
This exercise builds stability of your lower legs. It can be a frustrating exercise at first but this exercise boosts strength of your feet, ankle and calves. You need exercise bands or towels for this exercise. As with other exercises mentioned above, stand with feet hip width apart. Pull the towel towards you with your toes. Curl them inwards and try to slowly pull the towel towards you.
- Tape your shin splints properly. If you are not familiar as to how you can tape them, you can ask your trainer or physical therapist to help you out.
- Wear compression calf sleeves to help your legs properly compressed to promote recovery of muscles after running.
- Copper-infused compression sleeves can also be beneficial to help in the overall compression of the leg and feet.
These exercises can make a difference in preventing shin splints for runners. Strengthening your legs and building momentum for running can spell the difference in making your legs healthier and make you run better.
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