When you have shin splints, boy, do you know it! They’re the bane of many runners’ training—whether you’re new to running or more experienced. How to prevent shin splints running is often surprisingly easy…well maybe not easy to do because you want to run, but easy in practice.
Shin splints aren’t an injury caused in a specific moment of running, rather they come on slowly, leading many runners to believe it’s simply a strain that will go away on its own without any special treatment.
While sometimes, shin splints just go away—at least for the lucky ones—more often, they become a chronic (and painful!) problem.
How do I know if I have shin splints?
It’s not a subtle pain, it’s in your face and letting you know something is wrong.
- Pain along either the front or either side of your lower leg
- Pain that appears each time you try to run and eventually just walking
- Can have some minor swelling
The location of the pain is largely dependent on your running form. Some people will notice it more on the inside, others the outside and some all over.
If you’ve have found yourself asking “why do I always get shin splints?”, then these tips will help you keep running and ditch the pain.
How To Prevent Shin Splints
Shin pain from running is the result of overuse. They’re caused by repeated strain on the calf muscles, especially the anterior muscles along the shin bone.
So if you’re just starting out or kicking your training up a notch, use these tips to avoid shin splints.
- Don’t ramp up miles or intensity too quick
- Change where you run
- Get shoes for shin splints
- Rest those muscles
- Shin splints stretches
Shin pain when running is avoidable! Read on to put it to an end.
Like most of the obstacles that will surface during your life as a runner (and there will be many), there are plenty of ways to treat shin splints before they get out of hand and derail your running schedule.
There’s shin splits prevention and shin splints recovery—and you can (and should) try both.
Let’s first focus on prevention:
1. Start Slow
Weekend warriors beware. The easiest way to get shin splits is logging too many miles too quickly.
Shin splints are the most common injury for new runners.
If you’ve never run before (or you’ve never run that FAR before), hitting the pavement for a bunch of miles every day right off the bat puts you at risk.
Even if your cardiovascular system—your heart and lungs—can handle the workload, your legs are absorbing the strain.
- 10% rule is what we often cite for how quickly to add mileage
- Consider following a Couch to 5K plan which will ease you in to the miles
- Remember to warm up before each run to loosen muscles
2. Find Softer Running Surfaces
Pavement is tough on your body.
The impact of your feet pounding hard pavement puts stress and strain on your muscles, bones and joints. Yet, it’s tough to find an alternative to running on pavement (especially if you live in the city), but I promise they’re out there.
Treadmills, for example, can put less strain on your shins than running on the pavement because of the give in the deck.
3. Use the Right Shoes
Finding the right running shoes is crucial to avoiding shin splints primarily because their role is to minimize the stress put on your calf muscles.
Best Running Shoes for Shin Splints
Here are some shoes to help prevent shin splints or ease them if started:
- Hoka Clifton – a great neutral running shoe with plenty of cushion to help your body get used to the impact
- Brooks Adrenaline GTS – this is a stability shoe which help help if your feet are rolling inward and thus overtaxing your muscles, it’s also got a good amount of cushion.
- Saucony Triumph – Another great neutral cushioned shoe.
Oddly, I’ve never had shin splints and have run in a lot of these shoes…hmm maybe that’s why!
4. Rest Overworked Muscles
Rest is vital to avoiding injury, especially if you’re a newbie runner. I know many runners fight and fuss over the idea of rest. After all, we’re runners—we like to MOVE, right?
Shin splints from running however are one of the few injuries where rest is the first step.
Usually I want you to start with strength work, but here you have to rest that inflamed muscle.
You CAN spend time stretching and working your upper body! No need to stop the momentum.
- Heat is useful to loosen the tight muscles
- Pull on some compression socks or tights to increase blood flow and healing
- Foam roll your tight calves and quads – do not roll your shins right now
5. Shin Splints Stretches
Does stretching help shin splints? Yes.
But the focus is less on stretching your shins for the most part, we’re stretching tight muscles that are pulling on them. Calf stretches can help you avoid shin splints.
These are stretches you want to hold for at least 30 seconds, but up to 2 minutes
- calf stretch with band – seated loop a band around middle of foot and then pull back to feel stretch in calves
- heel walks – lift up your toes and walk forward and backward on your heels
- toe walks – get up on your toes and then walk forward and backward
- stair heel drop – standing with toes on a stair, allow your heels to drop below and hold the stretch
- kneeling shin stretch – see photo above you are kneeling with feet flexed
Once the inflammation is gone, you can foam roll your shins prior to running to help loosen up the muscle and get blood flowing!
Is it too late for shin splints prevention??
You’ve already made a few of the above mistakes and found yourself with an ache you can’t ignore and a burning desire to get back to your running?
Checkout these 5 tips for shin splints treatment >>
Have you ever had an issue with shin pain?
Any other injuries you have questions about?
Other ways to connect with Amanda
Instagram Daily Fun: RunToTheFinish
Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinish