Day: February 27, 2012

Oh Those Nasty Shin Splints

Whether you are going after general fitness or you are training hard to prepare for a certain sport, if you train with any purpose, then you are probably training hard. And when you go hard, you are bound to run into a few “wear and tear” problems along the way. These issues do not need to take you off course and should not keep you from reaching your goals!

One common issue I’ve heard of lately is shin splints. If you’re jogging around outside, training for a race, or participating in a boot camp class, you’re at risk of a common, running-related injury called shin splints. Referring to pain along the shin (tibia) or the large bone in the front of your lower leg, the pain is caused by an overload on the shinbone and the connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone. This overload is often caused by specific athletic activities, such as:

  • Running downhill
  • Running on a slanted or tilted surface
  • Running in worn-out footwear
  • Engaging in sports with frequent starts and stops (ie. basketball and tennis, or agility training and plyometrics)

If you have shin splints, you may notice tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner or sometimes outer part of your lower leg and mild swelling. At first, the pain may stop when you stop running or exercising. Eventually, however, the pain may be ongoing.

Most common among runners, many times they can also be caused by training too hard, too fast or for too long.

TREATING SHIN SPLINTS:

  • Rest. Avoid activities that cause pain, swelling or discomfort, but don’t give up all physical activity. While you’re healing, switch to non weight bearing cardio such as biking, the elliptical, or swimming.
  • Ice the affected area. Apply ice to the affected shin for 15 to 20 minutes after you train.
  • Wear proper shoes. Be sure you are wearing shoes designed for the sport in which you participate. Invest in a pair of shoes that will enhance your performance and protect you from injury. Also consider the age of your shoes. Athletic shoes will last you the equivalent of 350-550 miles of running, depending on your body weight, running style and surfaces on which you train.

*It’s also important to resume your usual activities gradually. If your shin isn’t completely healed, returning to your usual activities may only cause continued pain.

PREVENTING SHIN SPLINTS:

  • Choose the right shoes. As previously mentioned, wear footwear that suits your sport and replace them as necessary.
  • Lessen the impact. Cross-train with a sport that places less of an impact on your shins, such as swimming or biking. Start new activities slowly and increase time and intensity gradually.
  • Add strength training to your workout. Try foot strengthening along with calf raises. You can perform this exercise with added resistance by sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Loop a wide resistance band around your toes. Flex your toes toward you and extend outwards for 2-3 sets of 10 reps. Leg presses and other exercises for your lower legs can be helpful as well.

Seattle Athletic Club Downtown fitness programs incorporate athletic training to build strength, endurance, and agility. Training this way strengthens joints, tendons and connective tissues along with the major muscle groups. Strong muscle attachments and joints that can bear the stress of heavy training are essential in the prevention of injuries. However, even the fittest athlete can encounter wear and tear problems! By taking the right steps, you can minimize the pain and long term effects and get back to your normal routine in no time!