Whether you’re an experienced marathon runner or just starting a walking routine, shin splints can happen.
A painful tightness along the front of the shins, shin splints occur when your legs become overworked.
“Shin splints often happen if someone is increasing their mileage or speed too quickly,” said Kyle Bangen, MS, CSCS, Sports Performance Supervisor at Samaritan Athletic Medicine (The SAM) in Corvallis. “But it can also mean that other supportive muscles in the lower body used for running aren’t as strong as they should be.”
Once you have shin splints, the best treatment Bangen recommends is rest or low-impact activity.
“Typically one to two weeks is all you need for your shin splints to heal, but then you’ll want to start a strengthening regimen to prevent them in the future.”
To help prevent shin splints, Bangen shares these tips:
- Incorporate distance or speed slowly. Too much too fast is hard on your body.
- Stretch. Include a thorough stretching session after your run.
- Strengthen supportive muscles. Practice exercises such as heel drops, toe curls and the one legged bridge to strengthen other muscles in your legs.
- Use appropriate shoes and replace them as needed, usually every 300 miles or every year if you don’t cover that much ground.
Research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that having weak hip muscles can also contribute to shin splints in women.
“Running and extensive walking can place a lot of strain on the leg muscles and the bones,” said Bangen. “Anything that causes misalignment throughout the leg and foot can lead to an overuse injury like shin splints as the other muscles work to compensate.”
He recommends regular strength training for people who seem more prone to recurring shin splints.
“Take it slow and listen to your body as you exercise to avoid injury,” Bangen said.
Ready to learn more? Join Power Hour, a workout membership with coaching and personal training at The SAM weekdays from 6 to 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.