Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Avoiding Shin Splints When Running

Shin splints are hands down the most common injury that ail runners and virtually any athlete. It begins with a small burning sensation in the lower legs, most times on the inside of the shins until it escalates and you are unable to walk due to the pain. Shin splints usually put an athlete or runner out from weeks to months depending on the severity of the injury. They can be caused by variety of ways so how do you avoid getting them in the first place?

1) Proper Foot Wear

Never take for granted the pair of shoes that keep your legs safe and healthy. People tend not to pay too much attention to their running foot wear until it's much too late. So stop the problem before it starts and be sure to use a good, comfy and well supported running shoe. Most running shoes on average are good anywhere between 300-500 miles and should be replaced consistently. Also, you should be properly fitted by a trusted sports sneaker sales person, running buff or physiotherapist. The way people's feet touch the ground differs in everyone so it's best to have the correct type of footwear for your stride type. If you're a neutral runner and wear a pair of running shoes meant for an over pronator, you'll not only hamper your exercise but eventually injure yourself.

2) Be Aware of Running Terrain

Be aware of the terrain you are running on. Many shin splints cases develop because novice or intermediate runners start back from a moderate degree of inactivity to running up and down too many hills and uneven ground too fast. Keep on even ground and grass and/or even trails/tracks before running on concrete and up and down hills. This will allow your shins to build up strength to prepare for the excess pounding with you're increased work load once you hit uneven ground running.

3) Too Much Too Soon

Running too much, too soon is another common cause of shin splints. This often is what happens to beginners or runner's who took a break for a few weeks. When they return, they try to resume they're previous mileage while they're body hasn't had enough time to adjust yet. And for newbies to the running hobbie, thinking you can run more than you should will lead to injury. Distance running for new runners should only be about 2-3x per week anywhere between 1-5 miles depending on athleticism. Keep away from daily running until your body and shins can handle it, this will greatly reduce the chance of developing shin splints.

4) R.I.C.E.R.

Rest Ice Compression Elevation Repeat

This is one of the most over looked routines runners ignore. If you've done all that you can but still have onset shin splints, this is the last step to avoiding worsening symptoms along. Complete this routine on and off for 5-10 minute intervals for about a half hour to an hour after the run to ease pain and aid recovery.

5) Taking Time Off

Runners and athletes hate to take time off, but if you already have shin splints it's necessary you stop running and playing sports until you build up strength in your shins. It may keep you off the road for a few weeks, but this is nothing compared to if you had kept running and your shin splints progressed into a fracture. The normal recovery from a shin fracture is months.

Follow these steps to avoid shin splints and you'll be sure to keep running towards your goals!

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