I have been a personal trainer for over twenty years and the ‘shin splint’ question seems to come up on a regular basis.
This problem usually rears it’s head when individuals are just launching into a new fitness program and with some minor tips it can usually be quickly brought under control.
A quick description of shin splints is that the Anterior Tibialis muscle [front shin] is under stress and it’s points of insertion and attachment may also be irritated therefore causing localized pain, redness and possible swelling.
I have just started running and I am having a terrible time with shin splints. What is causing it and what can I do to prevent them?
There are 4 primary causes for shin splints in a new runner.
Old, improper or unsuitable shoes
Shoes are responsible for absorbing shock, mechanical stabilization and support. If you are a heavy pronator, supinator or are wearing shoes not suitable for running then this could be causing your shin splints.
Solution: Go to a specialized sports or running store and have them set you up with a good running shoe that is designed for your type of foot.
Poor mechanics when running
Technique is everything when you are running. If you are leaning forward you load body weight forward to your knees, overload your calf muscles and make the tibialis muscle work double time to pick up your foot.
Sooner than later the muscle tires out and ‘viola’ muscle spasm and soreness.
Solution: Maintain good technique by slowing down, keeping your knees soft, core engaged, shoulders relaxed & pulled back, head up and focusing your eyes ahead not down.
If you wear high heels all day, you are chronically tight all over your body or you never stretch ...... expect to have shin splints when you start running.
The tension in your calf muscles generate strain on the little anterior tibialis muscle and after a run they tighten even more and the pressure will continue to increase.
Solution: Do an activity to warmup your legs [ie. walking, stair climbing] and then stop and stretch your calf muscles for 1-2 minutes each. Watch to make sure you see an improvement in range of movement. If you are wearing heels all day, walk around for an hour in flat feet prior to running.
High impact surface training
The surface you are running on can have a huge impact on your muscles and joints. T
he harder the surface the greater the shock to your joints and body.
Solution: Try to run on grass, trails, sand, gravel or any surface softer than cement or pavement whenever you can but especially when you are starting a run program.
Try this stretch for your calf muscles after a quick warm-up and prior to running. If your shins are hurting stop and stretch your calves. Keep your runs short, sweet and slow to start.
Post run remember to stretch your calves and rest, ice and elevate your shins to help the healing process along.
Hope this helps.
Kind regards, Tracie