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Shin Splints: What They Are, and How to Prevent Them

Shin splints

What’s up goal crushers! We’re back again, and this time we’re going to be talking about another common runner’s injury: shin splints. Here’s some information this minor yet painful condition that can be the bane of beginners and seasoned athletes alike.

What Are Shin Splints?

Known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), shin splints are a condition that can be caused by any number of activities. Much like Runner’s Knee – which we discussed last time – shin splints are often the result of too much activity, especially in runners just starting out. It’s characterized by pain in either the front or the back of the shins as a result of muscle inflammation or micro-tears of your lower leg muscles where they meet your lower leg bone, usually due to the kind of stress running or other athletic activities places on those muscles.

Read More: Runner’s Knee: What It Is, How to Prevent It, and What to Do If You Have It

What to Do if You Think You Have Shin Splints?

First of all, make sure you have shin splints and not something more serious. The pain of shin splints can be confused with other injuries like a stress fracture of your leg bone. If your lower leg pain feels localized and seems to feel better first thing in the morning, it might be a stress fracture and not a shin splint. The only way to make sure is to get a bone scan, so if you do suspect you have a stress fracture, go get it checked out.

Otherwise, treating a shin splint is relatively easy. Your legs can and will often heal on their own in anywhere between three to six weeks, but you’ll have to keep from re-injuring them during this time.  The most important thing is to either reduce your training or stop running altogether for as long as it takes for the pain to depart. Applying ice or cold packs to your shin can also help reduce inflammation, which will speed the healing process as well.

If you want to keep up with your exercise regimen you can cross-train in lower impact methods like swimming. Finally, if you absolutely must run, wrap your leg from below your knee to above your ankle with tape or Ace bandages to keep your muscles and tendons pressed up against your bone, as this will prevent you from damaging yourself further.

How Do I Prevent Shin Splints from Coming Back?

Easing back into running is the best way to keep your shin splints from returning. Take it slowly when you get back into it, and don’t increase your mileage more than 10 percent per week. Likewise, make sure you keep off hills and harder running surfaces to minimize shock to your legs.

Additionally, make sure your running shoes are in good shape and they’re right for your foot size and gait. Think about a second pair of shoes as well, in order to keep the stresses on your legs lower overall. Finally, make sure you stress your Achilles and your calves regularly. This will help to prevent the return of shin splints.

Read More: 8 Tips for Buying Running Shoes

Shin splints can be painful, but they’re not the end of the world. Just take it easy for a while, don’t jump back into running too fast, and you’ll be up and at it again in no time.

Have you dealt with shin splints yourself? Leave a comment below and tell us how you coped with the pain!

Until next time, keep crushing those goals!

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About Martinus Evans

Martinus Evans, MS is the blogger behind 300 Pounds and Running. He is on a journey to eating right, losing weight, running marathons, and crushing goals. Follow him as he Chase Values and #CrushGoals.
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