Shin splints and returning to running

Shun those shin splints

Shin splints usually refers to pain along the tibia  (or shin bone), the long bone at the front of your lower leg. Shin splints are common in teenagers, new runners and others that may be increasing activity levels.

Also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints often occur with recently intensified or changed training routines e.g. footwear, surfaces, new environment etc. The increased activity overworks the muscles, tendons and bone tissue. Common amongst beginners and growing teenagers keen to move to a higher level of performance.

Most often they can be treated with rest, ice and other self-care measures. Wearing proper footwear and modifying your exercise routine can help prevent shin splints from recurring.

Common Symptoms- If you have shin splints, you might notice tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner side of your shinbone and mild swelling in your lower leg. At first, the pain might stop when you stop exercising. Eventually, however, the pain can be continuous and might progress to a stress reaction or stress fracture.

Causes - Shin splints are caused by repetitive stress on the shinbone and the connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone.

Remember you are more at risk of shin splints if:

You’ve started upping the the running sessions or beginning running or returning after a long period away from the activity.

You suddenly increase the duration, frequency or intensity of exercise

You have flat feet or high arches

You run on uneven terrain, such as hills, or hard surfaces, such as concrete

Prevention - To help prevent shin splints, analyse your technique and movements. A formal video analysis of your running technique can help to identify movement patterns that can contribute to shin splints. In many cases, a slight change in your running style can help decrease your risk. A coach or running specialist shop may help with this.

Reduce sessions - Too much running or other high-impact activity performed for too long at too high an intensity can overload the shins.

Choose the right shoes. If you're a runner, replace your shoes about every 450 miles.  Consider arch supports. Arch supports can help prevent the pain of shin splints, especially if you have flat arches. Consider shock-absorbing insoles. They might reduce shin splint symptoms and prevent recurrence.

Reduce the impact. Cross-train with a sport that places less impact on your shins, such as swimming, walking or biking. Remember to start new activities slowly. Increase time and intensity gradually.

 Add strength training to your workout. Exercises to strengthen and stabilize your legs, ankles, hips and core can help prepare your legs to deal with high-impact sports.