As the weather gets warmer in Wisconsin, more people get outside to start their spring training. Warmer weather may inspire you to be more active, which is always a good thing. However, too much activity, too soon into your training can bring on painful shin splints. If you’ve ever had them before you know how painful they can be and how they can put a damper on any hopeful spring training goals. ”Shin splints” is a term that describes pain along the bone below the knee, the tibia. This type of pain is most commonly termed by medical professionals as “medial tibial stress syndrome” and is very treatable. I’ll give you a few tips to help prevent what can be a really annoying condition.
Risk factors associated with shin splints include:
- Improper shoewear
- Training errors
- Excessively high arch types
- Muscular weakness
- Increase your distance by no more than 10% per week to minimize the risk of injury.
- Running surfaces that are harder, uneven, or a curved track could also contribute to shin splints. Switching to a softer surface, such as grass, may be helpful to your prevention.
- Running shoes should be replaced every 300-350 miles to ensure they are providing the adequate support and shock absorption.
- If your shoes are new and you’re finding you have shin splints, you may want to try shock absorbing insoles as research has shown these to be effective in minimizing this pain.
- Your conditioning program should include cross-training with activities that are lower-impact such as cycling and swimming.
- Regular stretching of the gastrocnemius and particularly the soleus (calf muscles) is also important to reduce traction stress to the tibia. Additionally, strength training, particularly in the core and legs can help your body better absorb shock.
If you have unfortunately developed shin splints, the first thing to try is PRICE. If they aren’t going away, or are becoming a recurring problem, be sure to consult with your physician. Shin splints are most commonly medial tibial stress syndrome, however there are more serious conditions that can cause shin splints such as stress fractures and compartment syndrome. Once you visit with your doctor, and have ruled out these serious conditions, be sure to see a physical therapist. A PT can evaluate your risk factors, biomechanics, strength, and flexibility to determine a customized program for returning you safely to the activities you love.
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