5 Tips for Dealing with Shin Pain

You have just finished your dynamic warm-up and you’re feeling great. The early morning air is cool. Time to run! However, after only a few minutes you feel pain in your shins; that tight, sharp pain that calls up memories of ice packs and fewer runs. It can only mean one thing: shin splints.

Shin splints are something most every runner will have experienced at some point in their lives. Whether you are a seasoned runner and sports enthusiast or a student participating in mandatory physical education classes in school, there’s a strong chance you’ve experienced these before.  While the term “shin splints” is a pretty global term encompassing many different conditions, we’ll use the term loosely here to discuss the basics of how you can prevent pain in your shins.

Where do they come from and how can we minimize the risk of shin splints?

Shin splints are a kind of overuse, or repetitive strain injury. These kinds of injuries occur when there is an imbalance of strength, mobility and stability in the area of the body experiencing pain. In this case, the instability and muscle weakness exists in the feet. When there is a weakness in the stabilizing muscles of the foot and ankle, other muscles in your leg have to work harder in order to keep you balanced while running. Unfortunately, this strain causes these hardworking muscles to tighten, resulting in pain and less mobility.

The trigger for shin splints could be running too much too soon, or just simply too much. If you begin to feel shin pain, the best thing you can do in that moment is stop putting stress on those muscles. The damaged tissue needs time to heal and in some cases, may require some therapy in order to promote healing and joint mobilization.

Here are our tips to help you avoid shin splints altogether!

  1. Strengthen your muscles.

If the cause of your shin splints is weak muscles in your lower leg and feet, focus on strengthening these weak muscles. This will help you build a more stable base to run on and help prevent overuse of stronger muscles. Strengthening your muscles with gentle exercises, such as balancing exercises or yoga, will promote healing of the damaged muscles.

  1. Wear good running shoes.

Overworked muscles and shin splints could be signs of bad shoes that do not provide you with enough support. Take the time to find the right pair of shoes and consider them a valuable investment for your health.

  1. Mobilize your muscles and joints.

Try using a foam roller to help warm up your muscles with compression and friction. Slow, controlled rolling of your calf, shin and foot can help you avoid shin splints.

  1. Don’t forget your core!

A strong core is an essential part of our balancing abilities. These core muscles in our backs and pelvis also affect the mobility of our joints and the efficiency of our leg muscles. Everything is connected.

  1. Rest.

When you are dealing with an injury like shin splints, listen to your body. It needs rest from the aggravating activity however sometimes you can still manage other activities like cycling or deep water running. Sometimes ice and a little professional help is in order to heal. It is always a good idea to consult with your physiotherapist. Our team of experts can help you tackle the problem and get you back to your running routine safely.

Are you new to running? Read our post, 5 Tips for New Runners, to help get you started. Happy running and keep those muscles strong!

Credit to Little Goblins Press for this blog post.

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