How to Correct Shin Splints in Runners – What to Know
November 6, 2019
November 6, 2019
At some point along the road, runners know that there’s a high chance of running into shin splints. It’s a common occurrence that acts as a roadblock for beginners – almost as if it’s a rite of passage for runners. But what exactly are shin splints, and how can you avoid them?
What are Shin Splints?
Formerly known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), shin splints are characterized as an aching pain on the inside of the shin, just by the border of the tibia and the calf muscles. Starting as a distracting sore, it can soon develop into a sharp pain or burning sensation if you continue to run in spite of symptoms of shin splints. Shin splints happen when you overwork your muscles that result in inflammation, which is the primary source of pain and gradual weakness you can expect from shin splints.
What Causes Shin Splints?
Shin splints can happen to longtime runners, though it is common in newbies, particularly women. It typically occurs when you change an element in your training – be it running style or path. For instance, switching your running track from a trail to a sidewalk can increase the stress in your legs. This is because the impact absorption will be different in both mediums, and cement is not known to take in the force of your energy as effectively as a trail.
How Can You Correct Shin Splints?
You can prevent shin splints from occurring by improving your running form and building your strength in your calf muscles. Exercising the intrinsic muscles of your feet is an effective way to help the bone at the top of your arch, called navicular drop, absorb stress efficiently.
The alignment of your knees also plays a crucial role in your comfortability while running. For instance, the relative distance of your pelvis to your feet as you run matters as landing too far out front can build up stress upon impact. For severe cases, you can undergo the following treatments:
This DIY treatment plan encourages you to apply gentle yet firm pressure to areas along your shinbone that feel thick, stiff, or tender. Move up or down along the lining of the shinbone to help release pressure and relax the tissue where the muscle meets the bone. Do this for no more than three minutes at a time for even application.
Eccentric Heel Drops
Another easy-to-do treatment, this method requires you to stand barefoot on a step on one foot, while your heel is at the edge of the step. This is so you can gently lower your heel toward the floor while the ball of your foot is gently pressing for at least three seconds. You know its right when you feel your calf stretching, which you will have to hold for ten seconds. Repeat this for five to seven times on each side.
Shin splints are a common injury amongst runners, wherein 20% of the running population suffers from this muscular strain. Knowing ways to prevent or ease the initial stages of shin splints are crucial. Not only will it help you fix your form and optimize your running technique, but it is also a necessary step in mitigating worse-case scenarios such as tibial stress fractures.
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