Shin splints are a common injury in runners. Shin splints refer to pain along the shinbone, or tibia. If left unchecked, shin splints can worsen and turn into stress fractures. Luckily, there are some easy ways to avoid shin splints when running and, when detected early, shin splints can be treated with RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation).
Warm up for five minutes before a run by doing a fast-paced walk or a very slow jog. Stretch for 10 minutes, focusing on your calf muscles. Warm-ups and stretching will improve blood flow to your leg muscles, which can help prevent injury. Implement a short five-minute stretch routine after your runs also.
Increase your mileage gradually and run in moderation. Shin splints frequently occur from overuse, so if you're training for a race, such as a marathon, follow a sensible training schedule. Do not become a "weekend warrior" and run a long run of more than six miles only once a week. Instead, break up your mileage over the course of the week to avoid injury.
Run on softer surfaces, such as grass and asphalt. The pounding and shock to your legs from running on concrete or asphalt is a common cause of shin splints. Alternate your runs to include some trail or sand running.
Replace your running shoes. Running shoes lose their cushion and support with wear, resulting in more shock to your legs with each foot strike. The University of Michigan Health System suggests replacing your shoes about every 600 miles.
Discontinue running if you feel any shin pain. Rest and elevate your legs. Ice the painful shin for 20 minutes four times a day and apply a compression bandage. Cease from running for a few days and continue the RICE treatment. If the shin pain stops, you can continue running, but remember to increase your mileage gradually.
If shin pain persists, you might be wearing the wrong type of shoes. Have your running shoes fitted at a running store. Take your old running shoes with you to help the process. A professional at a running store can assess the wear on your old shoes and recommend new shoes to alleviate potential shin splint problems.
An orthopedist can fit you with custom orthotic insoles if new running shoes still don't alleviate the pain.
If shin splints are left unchecked, the muscle and tendons can start to separate from the shin bone. If you have shin pain, do not continue running, even if you're training for a long-anticipated race.