Sprains, Strains, Pains, Shin Splints, OH MY!

As a runner, it is quite common to suffer from shin splints. ?Shin splints? is a term used to describe a variety of different lower leg problems ranging from tendonitis, strains, sprains, and stress fractures. The bones and the muscles of the shins are divided into three distinct departments of the anterior, posterior, and deep posterior. These areas can be the cause of shin pain often characterized as an aching, throbbing, or tenderness of the lower leg about halfway down or all along the shin from the ankle to the knee. Runners who are beginners or other runners who add more than 10% percent to their weekly training often suffer from this disorder. Ignoring the initial pain can lead to medial tibia stress syndrome or a stress fracture. Pain usually starts at the beginning of a run, disappears, and then comes back after a run.

Some of the common causes of shin splints include:

1. Training with a group that is too fast;
2. Doing too much too soon;
3. Tight gastronmenious or tibilas anterior muscles;
4. Injury to the tibia;
5. Running on uneven or hard surfaces;
6. Using the same pair or worn out shoes;
7. Not rotating your running shoes with two or three other pairs;
8. Training too intensely or too excessively during a given week;
9. Poor body mechanics such as muscle strength imbalance and muscle inflexibility;
10. Flat feet or a high arch;
11. Shoes that are too small, and
12. Inexpensive footwear.

It is very important to treat shin splints. Treatment includes:

1. Ice before and after running. Cryotherapy is also effective;
2. A warm towel or heating pad 10-15 minutes before exercising;
3. Icing the injured area for twenty minutes at least three times a day;
4. Reducing your running;
5. Active rest from your running. Try cross-training such a biking or swimming;
6. Strengthening of your gastronenimus and tibialis anterior with weights or body weight exercises;
7. Cross training with no-impact exercises such as swimming and biking;
8. Using anti-flammatory medications such as Tylenol or aspirin. Your doctor may prescribe Naproxen which is an anti-flammatory as well;
9. Running on soft surfaces and avoiding excessive inclines or uneven streets;
10. Warming up and cooling down before each workout;
11. Avoiding activities that put weight on the affected area;
12. Wearing a support hose after the workout;
13. Using Biofreeze or another pain relieving gel;
14. Consider getting a pair of orthotics. Many insurance companies offer partial or complete coverage.
15. Static and partner stretches of the calves and heel. Be sure you don?t feel pain as you stretch.

Tips for avoiding shin splints:

1. Have quality shoes. Visit a racing store and have them carefully measure your feet and evaluate your running;
2. Never increase your mileage more than 10% per week;
3. Run in the winter at least once a week outside to keep your running base up, and
4. Avoid running on sidewalks, concrete, grass, or sand surfaces.

Tips on buying shoes:

1. Replace shoes every 350-500 miles;
2. Check frequently for wear and tear on your shoes;
3. Rotate your shoes with at least three different pairs;
4. Buy your shoes from a running store or a knowledgeable sale staff member who runs, and
5. Stick to one model or type of running shoe that you know and trust.

When dealing with shin splints, remember that it is not a crime to take a day off. It is just your body telling you to slow down and regroup. Remember that smart running is a lifetime sport.


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