If you've ever suffered from shin splints before, you know just how painful it can be. A shin splint can prevent you from performing athletically, and it may even make walking painful. However, in most instances, you're able to avoid shin splints with a few precautionary measures. As long as you follow these tips and tricks on how to prevent shin splints you'll be able to remain upright, running, and performing your favorite athletic activities for as long as you'd like.
ABOUT SHIN SPLINTS
Shin splints can creep up on you. The pain in your shins stems from increasing your activity while on your feet. This is why shin splints are common with everyone from professional dancers to professional athletes. However, with some simple preventative measures it is possible to avoid shin splints. By knowing how to prevent shin splints you'll be able to avoid dealing with this kind of pain.
Despite the name, a shin splint is not any kind of splinter in your shin or a fracture in the bone. It isn't that serious, which is why it is possible to correct the problem without going to the doctor. The term itself is in reference to a pain you feel right along the shin bone at the front of your leg.
When your leg muscles that run along the front of your shin becomes overworked, the muscle and connecting bone tissue and tendons will become inflamed, which is what causes the problem. It is painful and it may prevent you from performing at your peak, but it is easily treatable. It just might take a little bit of time.
CAUSES, SYMPTOMS, & TREATMENTS
There is no confusing shin splints with another kind of injury. It doesn't stem from a break in the shins or a sudden injury. You'll feel it slowly come on. You may even have sore shins after a workout for 30 minutes or even a few hours, but then it goes away. More extreme cases can last longer, but typically you'll have the pain for only a shorter time.
In order to know how to prevent shin splints, you need to know what causes the pain in your shins, the symptoms, and how to treat shin splints when you do suffer from the problem.
CAUSE OF SHIN SPLINTS
Shin splints are more likely to occur when you drastically increase the amount of physical activity you're putting yourself through. New military recruits who are not use to extended running often suffer from shin splints due to the added strain on their legs, muscles, and tendons.
Dancers who go from little to no dancing to dancing for hours at a time increase the potential of shin splints. The same is true for athletes who come in out of shape during the off-season and attempt to instantly jump into pre-season conditioning.
There are several physical attributes that increase your chance of suffering from shin splints. First, if you have flat feet, you're more likely to experience shin splints. You have flat feet when your entire foot contacts the ground (you have no arches when you walk).
If you don't have properly fitting shoes, have weak core muscles (such as in your abs and lower back), or you workout without properly warming up, all these can lead to the development of shin splints.
SYMPTOMS OF SHIN SPLINTS
Identifying shin splints is relatively straight forward. You'll feel a pain running up and down the front of your shin. This pain increases if you try to flex your foot out in front of you.
If your shin hurts when you attempt to push off with the foot, it means you probably have some kind of shin splint. The pain also remains focused at the front of your shin. It doesn't push up into your thighs or hips. It also doesn't circulate back to your calf muscles. This pain stays centralized in your shins.
HOW TO TREAT SHIN SPLINTS
If you are wondering how to prevent shin splints, you probably have already suffered from shin splints in the past. If you have shin splints, you need to know how to treat the problem before looking at how to prevent shin splints.
First, get off your feet. Kick back and relax. You should also ice your shins. Icing your shins helps reduce swelling and the inflammation your legs are suffering from. It's best to do this for 20 minutes every four hours for as long as your shins remain hurting.
You can pop anti-inflammation pills, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. This will help reduce the internal swelling, which helps reduce the pain. However, if you suffer from ulcers (or are at a greater risk of ulcers) you'll want to avoid taking the pain killer.
You should also consider new shoes. If you have flat feet, there are shoe inserts that will help with this. Visiting a foot doctor can help with identifying the problem and with crafting a specially designed arch insert for your shoe.
Seeing a doctor for prescribed shoe inserts is expensive. If you don't have this kind of money (or if your insurance doesn't cover it) there are arch reader machines at local stores such as Target and Walmart. When you step on the device, the equipment will read your weight placement and how your foot contacts the reader pad.
It then will give you an arch insert recommendation. The insert is highly recommended and can help with not only reducing shin splints, but reducing pain in your knees, hips, back and neck. If you suffer from any of these kinds of pain, it is a good idea to at least check out the insert machines.
HOW TO PREVENT SHIN SPLINTS
When it comes to how to prevent shin splints, you don't need to go to great lengths. Some preventative measures can be utilized to reduce the chance of shin splints coming on. Plus, with some basic preventative measures you should avoid ever having to deal with the problem again.
WORK YOUR WAY UP
If you have enlisted with a branch of the military, you know there will be physical training. The best thing you can do is prepare for this. You don't want to go in out of shape. The long jogs with heavy gear on your back, often at all times of the day and night, will take a toll on your shins. You need to be prepared for this.
Slowly work your way up. Even if you can only jog a mile the first week, slowly work your way up. Don't over do it at first though. Begin slowly, especially if you haven't been physically active in some time. The same is true if you are joining the high school football team or if you're taking up tennis (as examples). Stay on your feet for longer periods during the day and remain active. This cuts down your chance of suffering from shin splints and helps with how to prevent shin splints.
You need to have shoes that fit. Don't buy shoes too large so you grow into them. Likewise you don't want shoes that are hand-me-downs when it comes to athletic activities. While hand-me-down shoes are money savers, the foot pad on the interior of the shoe will have formed to the previous person's foot. Your foot is not the same, which means your foot will not strike the ground correctly.
Properly fitting shoes will go a long way in not only avoiding shin splints, but with preventing other kinds of injuries, too.
There is research out there that suggests overly stretching your shins can lead to shin splints. When it comes to this, it depends on who you talk to. However, everyone will tell you it is critical to warm up a little bit instead of going into your athletic activity cold turkey. Do calf-raises, high-knees, and anything else you need to warm up your legs. You can stretch some, but don't over do it. You want to improve the blood flow to your legs.
Once your heart is pumping and you're ready to go, you will reduce the chance of suffering from shin splints. And now that you know how to prevent shin splints, you will cut down the potential of suffering from future shin splints.
Shin splints are painful. This pain rarely comes out of nowhere. It is a slow, building pain that might seem more of a nuisance than anything else at the beginning. However, it continues to grow more and more painful until you realize it's not possible to run or perform at peak efficiency because of the pain.
By knowing how to prevent shin splints you'll avoid this kind of pain and be able to not only perform at a higher level while you're running, playing basketball, football, or doing anything else athletic, but you'll also see an improvement in your overall quality of life. Just take advantage of these tips and tricks for how to prevent shin splints.