Go the Distance: Preventing Shin Splints

Most runners know the feeling well.

It can start innocently after a few months of training for a new distance, or after getting back on the road after a hiatus.

It starts as a pain in the shin that jolts when your forefront hits the pavement, and can evolve to become physically painful even upon rest.

Unfortunately, if not treated properly, shin splints can lead to stress fractures and worse – and there’s no news a runner dreads hearing like they’re being sidelined because of an injury.

Luckily, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, there are ways to prevent shin splints, even if you’ve been a chronic sufferer in the past.

Choose proper shoes – and update them.

If you’re a runner, you should be wearing shoes designed for runners – as opposed to a cross-trainer or street sneaker. your shoes should complement your foot’s shape. For instance, high arches need a shoe with arch support. And they should fit just right – a half size bigger than your street shoe size to accommodate for swelling while you’re on the road.

Sudden increase in your running – whether it’s duration, intensity, frequency or distance – could contribute to shin splints. Work with your doctor to create a gradual plan that will work for your activity level and goals. You can prevent shin splints by making your increases gradually instead of suddenly to build muscles and strengthen ligaments.

Cross-train.

Frequent repetition of a singular high-impact activity – like running – can lead to shin splints. Incorporate activities like strength training and yoga to build and lengthen muscles, and intersperse your training schedule with swimming or cycling to maintain your level of cardio while giving your shins a rest.