I have two words for you. Two words which give runners everywhere nightmares. “Shin splints”. Most people are familiar with this diagnosis; and if you have had them before, you know that they are highly irritating!
In this blog, I want to talk about three strategies you can use to help reduce your risk of developing shin splints symptoms.
1st: Buy a Good Pair of Running Shoes
Just like anything else shoes break down and need to be replaced. How often they need to be replaced depends on how far you are running in a week.
As a general rule of thumb, running shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles, which means you can’t simply replace them once a year (if you are averaging 50 miles a week).
2nd: Slowly Ramp up Your Running Distance
Have a plan for building up your running distance. If you want to run a half-marathon this summer, but have not been putting in any miles during the winter, you should not start off running 30 miles a week. You should instead begin by building up your walking tolerance, move to walk/run intervals, then build your running distance from there.
Going from spending most of your time sitting on the couch and binge-watching Netflix straight into hardcore run training is a sure fire way to end up with a case of shin splints.
3rd: Stretch Your Calf Muscles
Finally, make sure you stretch out your calf muscles before and after your run. When stretching out your calves, it is important to ensure you stretch out both of the major muscles which reside there, your gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.
The gastrocnemius is stretched when your toes are pulled toward your head with your knee straight as this muscle spans across the knee. In order to stretch the soleus, you must have your knee bent as this muscle stops short of the knee.
Each of these three strategies can play an important roll in helping you to avoid shin splints and helping runners everywhere to get a better night’s sleep!
If you or someone you know is already dealing with this condition, then set up an appointment today to be seen by one of our physical therapists. There are many strategies to help speed up recovery!
Written By: Josiah Parker, PT, DPT