Anyone that has ever had shin splints will almost certainly recognise the look of despair on a fellow runner’s face when they tell you that they’re currently battling it. Shin splints is easily one of the most common injuries running-related injuries and also probably one of the most frustrating.
What are shin splints?
The term refers to pain in the front of the lower leg, anywhere from below the knee to just above the ankle. The mildest of cases is just inflammation of the connective tissue between the muscle and the bone but in severe cases this tissue could separate itself from the bone, which is a lot more painful.
How do shin splints happen?
Runners will develop shin splints for one of two reasons;
1. Overuse of the lower part of the leg while running, which will happen if you have a tendency to push off of your toes in each stride. This causes the shin and calf muscles to work overtime as your whole body weight is being supported by your toes. Overuse can also be down to beginners running further or faster than their legs are willing to put up with at the beginning of their love affair with the sport.
2. Alternatively, some runners will get shin splints because of the excess of impact to the lower legs which happens when if you have a tendency to land on your heels when you run. This can also happen if you’re running in old, worn out trainers or running a huge amount of miles on a treadmill.
How to avoid shin splints
To avoid shin splints that occur from overuse of the lower part of the leg, to ease into it, start slow and build up speed and distance over time.
The best way to avoid shin splints that come about because of the excess of impact to the lower legs, practice striding mid-foot, so that you’re neither taking off on your toes nor landing on your heels. We’ve also just given you a brilliant excuse to invest in some new running shoes! Just make sure that they are supportive, for the most part the more stable your shoes are the less likely you’ll be to develop shin splints.
How to cure a case of shin splints
The best thing to do to cure yourself of this horrible injury is probably the last thing you want to hear, but we’re going to have to say it anyway: stop running for a while. It is the only way let your legs recover, and when the pain finally subsides, build up your mileage slowly instead of picking up exactly where you left off to avoid getting stuck taking another few weeks off. If you diagnose it early, ice could help reduce the inflammation but even so, rest is crucial.
Although shin splints are anything but fun, through preventing or curing them you will see your running technique improve. The best bit of advice that anyone who has ever had this running injury will tell you is to aim to prevent it, so that you’ll never need to think about curing it!