Q&A WITH FITNESS INC. TRAINER, JENNA KANE, MS
Q: I am starting to run outside and preparing for my spring and summer running races. How can I avoid getting shin splints?
A: That’s a great question! First, let’s define shin splints. Shin splints (or medial tibial stress syndrome) is a condition where one of the calf muscles from the back of the leg becomes irritated and overused and begins to tear away from the shin bone (tibia). OUCH! Because of where this muscle attaches, the pain will be felt on the inside of the shin bone. It is typically an intense pain that you can pinpoint to a specific area of 1-2 inches anywhere along the inside of the tibia. If your pain in on the outside (lateral side) of the shin bone that is a different issue all together.
There are many factors that can contribute to someone getting shin splints. Foot shape, muscle development, running gait and training can all play a role.
Wearing the Right Shoes
Those with fallen arches or over-pronators (where your foot rolls in toward the middle) are a a greater risk for developing shin splints. Look for a stiffer sole or a stability running shoe with a substantial arch to support your foot. You should also consider having your running gait analyzed.
You should also be aware of how quickly you are increasing your distance or speed. Adding mileage or speed too quickly can cause shin splints.
Lastly, strengthening the muscles of the front side of the lower leg and keeping the calf muscles stretched and happy will go a long way to preventing this painful and frustrating injury.
Shin splints are difficult to get rid of but pretty easy to prevent. If you find the right equipment, take your time with your training and do some preventative exercises you can look forward to a healthy and hopefully injury free running season!
Jenna Kane, MS