Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Shin Splints

You finally get the motivation to start running. 3 runs in, you get the dreaded "SHIN SPLINTS" and then you're out and pretty much never look back.

As with most injuries Shin Splints are easily preventable, and treatable!!

Why do we get Shin Splints? 
There is a combination of factors that lead to Shin Splints but the main reason are weak muscles in the front of your leg which function to bend the foot upwards at the ankle.

Most Common Culprits- 
1: Weak Leg Muscles
2: Shoes
3: Form

Lets start from the feet up- 
Shoes - improper, ill-fitting, unbroken in shoes means your feet are not properly supported. Your feet have to work harder at an bad angle, causing your leg to compensate = inflammation = Shin Splints. 

Go to RoadRunner sports, or a local running store and ask them to fit you. I like Road Runner because you can run in the shoes and return them within 60 days if you don't like them. It takes a few runs to see if a shoe is right for you. Not all shoes or brands are created equal. 

Once a person becomes a stronger runner, their legs are naturally stronger and shin splints rarely ever happen at that point. 

But before you can get there, here is a GREAT exercise to prevent shin splints. Essentially Stronger legs = No Shin Splints. 

Shin Splint Prevention! 
Do this Before and After each workout. 

Step 1: Standing tall walk on your heels (without bending your knees). Aim to reach 100 steps. If you're first starting out the front part of your leg (shin) should burn after about 20 steps. 
Try to force another 10 steps after the initial burning sensation. Slowly increase your steps each time.You will see it doesn't take long to increase your steps = stronger legs

Step 2: Run backwards on your Toes, (the same length you just walked). Try to bounce as high as you can on your toes while you run backwards. This helps release and relax the muscle you just worked out. 

After doing this consistently for a few weeks, feel it out and see if your shins still hurt. You can slowly ween off doing this exercise as you body gets stronger. You can still do this exercise from time to time. It is really great. 

If shin splints still prevail after all this the problem lies in your Shoes or your Form. 

Form is a whole other monster that I will need to go in depth in with another post.

Here is a great video that shows the Heel-Toe walk. This video only walks backwards, but I prefer the run/bounce - but the visual is the same.

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