Top 7 Causes of Shin Splints and How to Stay Shin Splint Free Forever
Some runners get shin splints once or twice and other runners get shin splints again and again. Either way the pain can be intense and can stop you dead in your tracks. Understand the top seven causes of shin splints, discover recovery techniques and what you can do to stay shin splint free.
1. The Hard Truth
Avoid as much as possible running on hard surfaces like concrete. Running for long periods of time on hard surfaces can cause tiny micro-cracks in the two bones of the lower leg the fibula and the tibia, also called the shin bone. Repeated insult can turn these micro stress fractures into major problems that will end your training for a considerable time. If you have a stubborn history of shin splints this may be the root of the problem. A qualified sports clinic can identify or rule out a stress fracture. X-rays can detect stress fractures, but not always. A sports clinic equipped with x-ray equipment can help diagnose detect the presence of stress fractures with x-rays or more sensitive diagnostics like a bone scan. Choose softer surfaces like dirt trails, grass, rubberized tracks, or sand and alternate running these surfaces.
2. Too Much Too Soon
Increasing your mileage too quickly can result in shin splints especially for beginning runners. To avoid injury and see the best results, beginning runners need to start slow, build up, and stick to it. A safe program for new runners is to your weekly mileage total by 5% every two weeks. The seasoned runner can increase mileage by 10% to 15% every two weeks. These are recommendations. Many factors determine the safe mileage increase percentage for you including your running history and style, along with your general health, weight and age. No matter how long you have been running do not let stubbornness or ego get in the way of listening to your body. When you need to slow down or stop do it. Warm up and cool down properly.
3. Running In Circles
Going through the same routine the same way repeatedly can cause excessive stress and strain on the muscles and bones of the lower leg. Stress and strain can lead to more serious conditions the longer you continue the same routine. Change is good for your mindset and your body. Variations in location, surface, duration are great ways to mix-up your running program. Add cross training activities like cycling and swimming to give your body a break from the routine. You will perform better and be less likely to develop an injury.
4. If The Shoe Fits
The typical running shoe has a life span of approximately 300-400 miles. Worn out shoes must be replaced. Factors affecting wear and tear of running shoes include your running style, weight, leg length differences and foot type. Visit a specialty running store where they have a podobaroscope, a glass surface with a mirror underneath, or where they do foot scans to determine your foot type. Arch determines foot type. Normal-arched runners are usually normal pronator, runners with flat feet are usually overpronate and high-arched runners are typically underpronate. If you have high or low arches you may need prescription orthotics. Orthotics help to prevent abnormal internal rotation of the shin bone and the fibula. Rotation of the bone can cause torque stress to the attached calf muscles. The rotation and torque usually results in shin splint like symptoms and pain. Orthotics may help prevent shin splint occurrence in most athletes no matter the sport or activity.
5. Coral Your Calves
When you have shin splints, you feel pain along the inside-front part of the lower leg. Pain in this area is also called medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). An imbalance between the calf muscles on the back of the lower leg and the muscles on the front part of the lower leg is the most common cause for MTSS. Stronger calf muscles on the back of the lower leg dominate the weaker muscles on the front part of the lower leg. This happens when the muscles on the front part of the lower leg try to slow you down at heel strike and when they lift the toe off the ground. Pressure from the muscles on the back of the lower leg stresses the muscles on the front part of the lower leg where the muscle attaches to bone. The result is inflammation and pain along the inside-front part of the lower leg where the muscles on the front part of the lower leg attach to bone. Physical therapy and exercises can help strengthen the muscles on the front part of the lower leg. Rapid toe taps are easy to do and quickly tone the muscles of the lower leg. To prevent shin splints, perform rapid toe taps in ten to fifteen minute sessions three to five times per day. Take care of yourself. Adequate rest periods that allow your body to recover from strenuous training must be incorporated into your routine. Warm up, cool down and be sure to stretch before training. Rest, stretch, and strengthen to say goodbye to shin splints forever.
6. Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
If your calf muscles are extremely tight and full of knots this is the likely cause of your shin splints. Knots or adhesions bind up the calf muscles over time and shortening and tightening it. The short tight muscle contracts creating stress along the tibial ridge or edge of the shin bone. You need to work out the knots in your calf and lengthen it again. Traditional massage therapy is more effective when ultrasound therapy is used first to help break up the knots. Ultrasound therapy working simultaneously with a premodulated current is one of the best catalysts for working through knots. A qualified sports doctor or chiropractor can administer this highly effective therapy. Muscle stripping and active stretch techniques are also effective therapies that remove adhesions, elongate the muscle, and then strengthen that muscle.
7. Take A Timeout
Poor recovery management causes many injuries in athletes at all levels. The drive to be better, faster, and stronger is part of successful training. Injuries pop up when your head takes over and you ignore messages from your body. When you ignore exhaustion and pain and continue running your form will suffer. Take the time to get proper nutrition, stretch before and after training, sit in ice baths and visit a sports medicine clinic to begin a rapid and solid recovery. Keep up these good habits and be much less prone to future injuries. Take good care of yourself and your body will take care of you.