The Runner's Guide to Shin Splints
The tibia is a bone that runs along the front of the leg underneath the knee. It is commonly referred to as the shin and is the location of pain when you suffer from shin splints. This is actually a broad term that can include any type of injury that produces pain in this area of the body.
Many people think of their shins on the front of their leg, but shin injuries can actually produce pain on the underside of that shin bone as well, kind of toward the back of the leg. Just as all other areas of the lower body, the shins are at increased risk of injury in runners.
Read on and learn exactly how to deal with this injury.
Shin Splints Explained
There is a muscle known as the soleus muscle, which connects to the shin bone in the lower front leg. This muscle is often the source of pain when this injury is experienced, but that is not always the case.
In general, when there is constant strain and pressure on the muscles around this bone, it can cause irritation that leads to inflammation. This leads to pain that will often fall under the category of shin splints.
This is not something that happens and automatically stops you when you are out on a run. It is something known to develop over time, which is why many long distance runners or those who run frequently are at high risk. The muscles become overworked and irritated and over time that starts to lead to more and more pain.
In most cases, runners develop this type of pain when they train too hard and do not allow their muscles to heal between intense workouts.
Without adequate rest and recovery, the muscles around the shin bone are unable to recuperate and the irritation and pressure becomes more than the muscles in this area of the leg can handle.
In other cases, runners who try to work out too intensely for the condition of the muscles can cause too much strain which leads to pain. The soft tissue in this area of the leg does not have the support it needs to sustain the intense training, and that result in overworking the muscles and irritation in the tissue. The result is pain.
If mileage is increased dramatically and recovery time is not adequate for the body to rest, shin splints and other injuries in the leg muscles will likely result.
Runners who do not properly stretch out before working out or who wear shoes that do not properly support their body may be causing this type of rundown and pain as well.
Once the pain becomes noticeable, it is best to take a break and give the legs a rest. Elevate the legs and place ice on them as needed to control any swelling and help with pain.
Over-the-counter medication can be used if the pain is intense, but many runners can recover without a lot of pain medication. This is not a condition that typically needs medical supervision.
As the pain begins to go away and the body heals, activity should be eased back into. Runners should not go right out and start intensive training. They should take it easy and gradually work their way back up to the level of training they were previously enjoying. Of course, preventative measures should be taken to prevent future irritations and strains that will lead to more shin splint problems.
How to Prevent Shin Splints
If runners follow proper safety procedures, a lot of shin splint cases could be avoided.
For instance, runners should always warm their muscles up and stretch prior to working out and they should gradually increase their running miles rather than making sudden increases.
They should also wear shoes that are not worn out and which provide adequate support for the shape and gait of their feet. When their muscles get sore, they should take it easier and allow the muscles to heal before picking up the intensity again.
None of this is a guaranteed way to prevent all cases of shin splints, but it can eliminate a lot of the unnecessary stress on the muscle tissue stretching across the front of the leg.
Since this is an injury that develops over time due to the strain of intense activity, anything that takes that level of intensity down can go a long way to preventing shin splints.
Do you want to get more tips on how to prevent and cope with running injuries? You should give Running Doc's Guide to Healthy Running, written by Lewis Maharam, definitely a try!
Recommended further reading:
- How to prevent achilles tendonitis
- How to prevent ankle sprains
- How to prevent blisters
- How to prevent DOMS
- How to prevent hamstring injuries
- How to prevent muscle cramps
- How to prevent overtraining syndrome
- How to prevent plantar fasciitis
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