Are you feeling some soreness along your shins during your run? You likely have something called shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome. Shin splints are one of the most common over use running injuries. There are many ways to avoid shin splints. Athletic Trainer, Lauren Clarkson, offers some tips to keep in mind.
Preventing shin splints
- Shin splints often occur with “too much, too fast, too soon.” If you recently picked up your running pace, distance or time and did it in too short of a time frame, it can lead to increased risk of injury.
- 10 % rule! Slowly increase your distance or time by 10% per week.
- Consider increasing your step rate (cadence) 5-10%.
- Change your running shoes every 300-500 miles. Around this mileage, the shoes start to lose part their shock absorbing ability.
- Strengthening and stretching the lower leg muscles are an important factor to keep shin splints away.
- Heel lowers: Standing on the edge of a step, rise up on the balls of your feet as high as you can go, then slowly lower down with your heels dropping below the step. Repeat 15 times per day. This will help strengthen, but also stretch your calf muscles.
- It’s also a good idea to have a full lower body strengthening program to include gluteal, hamstring and core strengthening.
Treatment for shin splints
- Ice massage: Freeze a Dixie cup ¾ full with water. Peel ½ the top of the cup away. Rub the ice cup over the affected area, moving in a circular pattern while applying gentle pressure. The ice should be applied until the area is numb. This usually takes about 8 minutes, but may take slightly less time or more time. Your skin may be pink when you are done.
- Strengthen and stretch: see heel lowers above.
- If quite painful when running, cut your activity in half until pain free, then gradually increase by 10% per week.
When to seek medical attention by a sports medicine physician:
- You have a small focal spot that is quite tender to the touch on your shin bone.
- Pain lingers more than a few hours after you are done running.
- Pain wakes you up at night or continues into the next morning when you get up.
These symptoms may suggest a stress fracture of your shin bone. For more information on treating injuries, view the TRIA Running Program web page.