Most runners at one time or another have experience shin splints. This pain runs up the front of the lower part of the leg between the ankle and the knee. Shin splints in runners can be very painful - but can be prevented once you know what the major causes are.
Many beginning runners experience shin splints because of running too far too soon. They are increasing their weekly mileage by too much. When you start running - or starting back running after a layoff - you want to start slowly. Don't start running too many miles before you work up to it. The rule of thumb is to not increase your mileage by more than 10% from week to week. For instance, if you are running 10 miles this week, you will only add 1 mile to your total next week.
Another common reason for shin splints is wearing running shoes that are worn out. Even though they may still look good, the cushioning in your shoes can break down. And, this can lead to shin splints. Depending on your weight and your running form, you only want to put between 350-500 miles on a pair of shoes.
Running the majority of your miles on concrete can be a contributor to your leg pain. The impact of concrete is even more than asphalt. This causes a lot of pounding on your legs. So, if at all possible, stay away from concrete sidewalks. If you find that the only area you have to run on is sidewalk, try running alongside on the road. Since you should be running facing traffic, if a car comes your way, you can get on the sidewalk until it passes.
Shin splints can also happen in runners who are running too many hard workouts, or too much mileage without rest days. Make sure that you are allowing for some easy days in your running schedule. These can either be complete rest days, cross training days or days where you run less miles.
You can do heel raises and toe raises a few times a week to keep those shin muscles stretched. These exercises in addition to watching running too far, too soon; running in worn out shoes; and running on concrete should keep you from developing shin splints. If you do, however, find that you do have them, do the exercises and ice the area after running - and they should go away before long.
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