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Here's How You Can Avoid Shin Splints

Here's How You Can Avoid Shin Splints

The shin bone is an underestimated part of your anatomy, and until it starts hurting, you’ve likely never paid much attention to it. These important bones, however, are crucial to distributing weight evenly across your knee and to your ankle.  

Your shins achieve this delicate balance through a combination of both hard bone and tough connective tissues that attach muscles to the bone. 

Of the problems you can have with your shins, the most common among them are shin splints. This occurs when chronic or increased stress creates microtears, painfully severing the connective tissues from your shin bone.

Though the injury is small, the impact can be huge and make even the smallest steps excruciating. Here, our team of specialists at Somers Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine Group share some practical tips for avoiding shin splints and treating them when they do happen. 

Run with care

Shin splints are notorious among runners. That’s because runners tend to put an inordinate amount of stress on their legs as they run. The risk increases even more as you increase your mileage and intensity.

A good rule of thumb is to add miles gradually. It’s also a good idea to run on softer surfaces like grass or dirt trails. A treadmill is another great alternative to concrete sidewalks and roads.

Don’t neglect rest

Regardless of your sport, rest is paramount — especially when you’re first starting out. Avoid shin splints by taking a break every few days and allowing your bones, muscles, and joints to heal. 

We also encourage our patients to listen to their bodies and limit or cut out activities that cause pain. 

Try cross-training

In addition to mixing in some days for rest, we also recommend peppering in days for other types of activities. Low-impact, aerobic exercise, such as swimming, yoga, and biking, can reduce your risk for shin splints and help you elevate other areas of your fitness. 

Evaluate your footwear

Your footwear may heighten your risk for shin splints. Make sure that the shoes you wear during your workouts are supportive, fit properly, and promote a natural gait. 

We also suggest that you replace your shoes every so often. Even if you started off with a great pair, time inevitably wears them out and leaves you vulnerable to problems like shin splints. 

Strengthen and stretch your lower leg

Another great way to avoid shin splints is to support your lower leg through regular stretching and strengthening exercises. Try fitting toe raises, heel raises, and calf stretches into your training routine. 

This will keep the muscles and tendons around your shin strong and flexible and help you avoid microtears that lead to shin splints.

Check in with your form

Every time your foot strikes the ground, there’s an opportunity for a shin splint to develop. That’s why it’s important to check in with your form. You should land in the middle of your foot near the mid-sole and roll through as you push off the front of your toes, although there is research that shows runners who naturally heel strike may not have an increased risk of injury. 

Certain running drills and even running barefoot on a soft surface can help you become more cognizant of how your foot hits the ground when you move.

Treat your shin splints

If the worst happens and you develop a shin splint, we’re here to help. Fortunately, shin splints often only require conservative intervention. That means resting from activity, icing periodically, and taking over-the-counter pain medications. 

We can also offer recommendations on other sports medicine treatments to aid the healing process, including taping, bracing, casting, and custom orthotics. 

If you’d like more information, or if you suspect you have a shin splint, you can request an appointment with one of our experts online or over the phone today. We have five convenient locations in Carmel, Newburgh, Mt. Kisco, and Fishkill, New York, as well as Danbury, Connecticut. 

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