Shin Splints Prevention

It can take months or years to recover from shin splints and even after making a full recovery, if you have had shin splints you are at greater risk of redeveloping this painful lower leg condition later in life. Spending a little time and effort to avoid shin splints is definitely worth it, as the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Preventative measures should focus on decreasing the impact forces acting on your shins. While each solution for preventing shin splints is beneficial in its own right, a combination of the following options can be more effective. While it can be hard to tell if the methods you select are going to work for your own condition, all have their merits and have proven to be effective in their own right. The combination which works the best for each individual can involve a little trial and error.
Stretching should be a part of everyone’s daily routine, regardless of anticipated or actual activity level for the day. Many people only stretch the calves and hamstrings and neglect to stretch the smaller muscles and tendons of the shins and feet. Stretching both the front and back of the legs, as well as the feet will help to prevent many overuse type aches and pains as well as improve your gait (how you walk or run). To stretch your shins, kneel down on a padded mat, with your feet flat against the floor, and your buttocks resting on your heels. You should feel the stretch in your shins. Hold for 30 seconds minimum and then stretch out.
Strength training in addition to your other activities is another important method for reducing shin pain. This is especially true if you usually focus on one type of activity. For example, a runner uses her legs the same way day after day, and while some of the muscles such as the quadriceps get a great workout with each run, other muscles such as the tibialis tendons at the front of the shin are neglected and can atrophy, or get overworked. To strengthen underused muscles in your legs and to build up stamina, try cross-training with different activities such as swimming, hiking, or ice skating or rollerblading thrown into the mix. You can try variants on your current activity such as walking backwards or going up and down inclines such as hills or stairs. To strengthen the tibialis, stand with both feet planted on the ground and flex your toes and raise up, hold this position for ten seconds, relax for ten seconds and repeat until your shins feel fatigued. You can also strap weight belts around your ankles to increase the resistance.
Proper footwear is essential, especially during high-impact activities. The arches of your feet provide impact absorption for every step. It is important to protect this function by wearing shoes with good arch support or arch support insoles inserted. Shoes are also designed to absorb the impact of walking, running, or jumping, but shoes wear out every 500 to 800 miles, so don’t forget to replace older shoes and if you really clock up the miles running each day, work out how frequently you need to change your shoes, you may need to change them every 10 weeks.
Finally, the most important step you can take to prevent shin splints is to listen to your body. If your legs or feet are tired, give them a rest. If you start feeling pain, stop and take care of it immediately. Shin splints is not the type of injury you can just run off.