Monday, February 10, 2014

Shin Splints and Running

Shin splints occur when stiff or overworked muscles and tendons in the lower leg begin to pull on the tibia bone and the connective tissues around the bone. Many athletes, particularly runners, experience this painful injury. You can heal most cases of shin splints with rest and other simple remedies. If you do not treat shin splints properly, the condition can get worse.

  • Increase your mileage gradually and run in moderation. Shin splints frequently occur from overuse. Do not become a "weekend warrior" and run a long run of more than six miles only once a week. Instead, break up your mileage over the course of the week to avoid injury.

  • Run on softer surfaces, such as grass and trails. The pounding and shock to your legs from running on harder surfaces like concrete or asphalt is a common cause of shin splints. Alternate your runs to include some trail or sand running.
  • Warm up for a few minutes before a run. Stretch for 8-10 minutes, focusing on your calf muscles. Warm-ups and stretching will improve blood flow to your leg muscles, which can help prevent injury. Implement a short stretch routine after your runs as well.
  • Discontinue running if you feel any shin pain. Rest and elevate your legs. Cease from running for a few days and continue the RICE treatment. Icing the injured shins can relieve the pain and help them to heal, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Place ice packs wrapped in paper towels over your shins for 20-minute periods. Ice your shins four to eight times every day until shin pain dissipates. Reduce swelling in your shins by elevating your lower legs. Elevate your legs while you sleep for one or two nights. While your shins heal, you can relieve pain with over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
          If the shin pain stops, you can continue running, but remember to increase your mileage gradually.

  • Replace your running shoes. Running shoes lose their cushion and support with wear, resulting in more shock to your legs with each foot strike. Replace your shoes about every 600 miles.