How to Avoid Shin Splints

How to Avoid Shin Splints
"Shin splints" is a general term for exercise-induced pain in the front of the lower leg. The source of shin splint pain is injury to or inflammation of the lower leg's muscle, bone, or connective tissue. Shin splints is a repetitive stress injury usually associated with running or climbing hills, and it is often brought on by an increase in training intensity. Treatment of shin splints includes the standard RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation), along with stretching and strengthening the lower leg. Recovering from shin splints can require stopping the aggravating activity (running or hiking) for two to four weeks, which is no fun and a major inconvenience, so it's worthwhile to take steps to prevent this painful injury.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Increase mileage or activity time gradually-ideally no more than 10 percent per week. For hills, start with gentle slopes and work your way up to steeper slopes.
Step 2
Wear proper footwear. Running shoes for running, walking shoes for walking, hiking shoes for hiking. Supportive shoes are especially important when walking or running on rough or loose surfaces.
Step 3
Stretch calves, shins and ankles before and after activity. See "Resources" for a list of websites where you can find stretching and strengthening exercises.
Step 4
Strengthen your calves. Although shin splints involve painful shins, avoiding shin splints depends to a degree on calf strength.
Step 5
Strengthen your shins. It's not something gym rats and personal trainers usually focus on, but there are things you can do to build the small muscles of the lower foreleg.
Step 6
Evaluate your stride. Overpronation and underpronation can be major contributors to shin splints. A good athletic shoe retailer can usually tell you if there is a problem with your stride and recommend the right corrective shoe. Sometimes orthotics can be helpful.

Tips & Warnings

If you have localized or pinpoint shin pain that occurs with all activity, you may have a stress fracture and should seek medical attention. See a doctor if your shin splints have not improved after four weeks.

Article Written By Marsha Maxwell

Marsha Maxwell has been a professional writer and editor for since 1988. Her work has appeared in "The Valley Journals," "Classical Singer," "NetWare Connection" and Trails. She also teaches writing at Salt Lake Community College. Maxwell has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Chicago.

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