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How to prevent and remedy shin splints


Are your shins aching after a run? Are you struggling to keep up with your new workout routine due to the shooting pains throughout your shins? You aren’t alone, shin splints are a very common injury with more than 3 million cases per year in the United States alone. 

What are shin splints?

Shin splints are an injury caused when muscles and bone tissue become overworked and begin to tear. More often than not, this is due to an increase in physical activity or a change in your workout regimen. The good news is that shin splints usually heal within several weeks on their own. However, in some severe cases, it may take several months. 

How can shin splints be fixed?

Taking a break from running is by far the best remedy to recover. Your body needs time to heal and recover from the injury. If taking a break from working out isn’t an option, try temporarily shifting to other forms of exercise such as swimming or bicycling until the shin splints have been remedied. These forms of exercise will reduce the amount of weight put directly on your legs so they can be given the opportunity to heal faster.

There are additional ways to expedite recovery time. The first of two common treatments is by icing your shin for the first day or two after the injury occurs. This helps reduce the amount of swelling and pain. If possible, ice your shin for approximately 30 minutes every 4 hours. 

The second beneficial treatment is massaging your shins. This can either be done by hand or by using a trigger point massager. The trigger point massager can be placed around your leg with the nubs contacting your shin. Rub back and forth across the shin for 10 minutes and then switch to the other leg. 

How can shin splints be prevented?

Since many shin splints occur from a sudden increase in physical activity, the easiest and most effective way to prevent shin splints is by gradually increasing your running pace and the difficulty of your runs. If you’re a beginner runner, don’t rush too quickly into trying to run as fast and long as you can. Start off with brief, moderately-paced runs so you don’t risk the chance of injuring yourself.

Another large factor in prevention is ensuring you wear a good pair of running shoes. There are several things to look out for when trying to find the perfect fit. Here are a few general tips and tricks: 

  • Leave a thumb's width of space between your big toe and the end of the shoe. This will give your feet enough space without having to worry about your toes being cramped.
  • Check to ensure sure your feet aren’t sliding around. 
  • Find the right width. Much like your fingerprint, feet sizes, shapes, and arches can drastically vary from person-to-person. 

For a more in-depth look at finding the proper type of shoe, check out this guide

Shin splints are a very common and relatively minor injury. With enough due diligence, they are easily preventable as long as you take the proper precautions before you begin running. Always take the time to warm up before and after your exercises and don’t push yourself beyond your limits. If you do get injured, don’t hesitate to take some time off from running. It’s vital to give your body the necessary time it needs to properly heal itself. 

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