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Preventing Shin Splints in New Runners: Tips for a Pain-Free Journey

Shin Splints

women's shoe bottomsShin splints, a common injury among new runners, can be a frustrating setback on your path to becoming a seasoned runner. The sharp pain along the front of your lower leg can quickly demotivate you and hinder your progress. However, with the right precautions and techniques, you can significantly reduce the risk of developing shin splints.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss some effective strategies to prevent shin splints and ensure a smooth and enjoyable running journey.

1. Start Slow and Gradually Increase Intensity:
One of the primary reasons new runners develop shin splints is pushing themselves too hard, too soon. It’s essential to allow your body time to adapt to the stresses of running. Begin with a conservative running plan that gradually increases the duration, frequency, and intensity of your workouts. A rule of thumb is to increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10% each week. This incremental approach gives your muscles, tendons, and bones sufficient time to strengthen and adapt, reducing the risk of shin splints.

2. Invest in Quality Footwear:
Choosing the right running shoes is crucial for preventing shin splints. Look for footwear that provides adequate cushioning, arch support, and stability. Replace your running shoes regularly, as worn-out shoes lose their shock absorption qualities and can contribute to shin splints. Additionally, consider using orthotic inserts or arch supports if you have flat feet or high arches, as these can help distribute the impact forces more evenly and reduce stress on your shins. Dearborn Health is fortunate to have an amazing Pedorthist who is an expert in orthotics and shoes selection, so we have you covered!

3. Warm Up and Cool Down Properly:
Skipping warm-up and cool-down routines can increase your risk of developing shin splints. Before each run, perform dynamic stretches and exercises to warm up your muscles and increase blood flow to the lower legs. Focus on movements that target the calves, shins, and ankles. After your run, cool down with static stretches to improve flexibility and promote recovery. Including these routines in your workout regimen helps prepare your muscles for the demands of running and reduces the chances of developing shin splints.

4. Incorporate Strength Training and Cross-Training:
Building strength in your lower legs can help prevent shin splints. Include exercises that target the calf muscles, such as calf raises, toe raises, and heel drops. Strengthening your core and hips is also important, as these muscles provide stability and proper alignment during running. Additionally, incorporate cross-training activities like swimming, cycling, or elliptical training into your routine to reduce the repetitive stress on your lower legs. Cross-training helps maintain cardiovascular fitness while giving your shin muscles a break from the impact of running.

5. Listen to Your Body and Rest:
Pushing through pain and ignoring warning signs from your body is a recipe for injury. If you start experiencing discomfort or mild pain in your shins, it’s essential to listen to your body and take appropriate rest days. Shin splints are often a result of overuse or inadequate recovery time. Incorporate rest days into your training schedule and allow your body time to heal and rebuild. Instead of running on consecutive days, consider alternating with low-impact activities. Additionally, if you’re experiencing persistent or severe pain, consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Preventing shin splints in new runners requires patience, smart training, and self-care. By gradually building your running routine, wearing proper footwear, incorporating strength training, and listening to your body, you are well on your way to some pain free running!

Here at Dearborn Health we like to follow an active rehabilitation plan that will be curated to you as an individual to get the best results. Active rehabilitation for shin splints focuses on exercises and techniques that help strengthen and condition the muscles in the lower leg while promoting proper biomechanics. Here are some effective active rehabilitation strategies for shin splints that one of our Chiropractors or Physiotherapists with take you through:

1. Stretching and strengthening exercises:

  • This is a key step to any and all injuries – we have to be able to calm down the irritated site of injury while simultaneously building up the capacity of the target tissue, as well as the surrounding tissues that help support its function. Our team of specialists can provide the correct exercises to achieve the desired effects of calming down the irritated tissue, as well as building it back up.

2. Footwear and Orthotics:

  • Ensure you have proper footwear that provides adequate support and cushioning for your feet. Consult with a specialist at a running store to find shoes that suit your foot type and running style.
  • Custom orthotics or arch supports prescribed by a healthcare professional can help correct any biomechanical imbalances that contribute to shin splints.

3. Cross-training and Low-Impact Activities:

  • Engage in activities like swimming, cycling, or using an elliptical machine to maintain cardiovascular fitness while giving your shins a break from high-impact activities.
  • Incorporate strength training exercises that target the lower legs, such as calf raises, ankle rotations, and balance exercises.

4. Gait Analysis and Biomechanical Assessment:

  • Seek the expertise of a Chiropractor or Physiotherapist at Dearborn who can perform a gait analysis to identify any irregularities or faulty mechanics that contribute to shin splints.
  • Based on the assessment, they can provide specific exercises and recommendations to correct your running form and improve your biomechanics.

Remember to start any new exercises or rehabilitation program gradually and progress slowly to avoid overexertion. If you experience increasing pain or discomfort during rehabilitation, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation and guidance.
It’s important to note that the best active rehabilitation strategies for shin splints may vary depending on individual factors, such as the severity of the condition, biomechanical abnormalities, and underlying causes. Working with a healthcare professional can provide personalized guidance and ensure the most effective rehabilitation program for your specific needs, we at Dearborn Health are happy to help any and all individuals dealing with such injuries.

Book in for an evaluation today.

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