young woman runningRunning is a huge part of how you stay fit. You love participating in races with your friends. But lately, you've been dogged by horrible pain in your shins every time you run.

Can This Be Shin Splints?

Probably. The great majority of pain below the knee--which can affect the front and the side of your leg-- is shin splints.

What Causes Shin Splints in Runners?

  • Beginning or seasoned runners who increase their training too rapidly.
  • Imperfect foot structure - if you have flat feet or your foot excessively pronates when you run you're more likely to get shin splints.
  • Running on uneven surfaces, hard surfaces, and hills
  • Improper stretching
  • Poor footwear

Can I Treat Shin Splints at Home?

  • Once you've developed shin splints, you'll need to stop running so you can heal.
  • Use ice to bring down the inflammation
  • Ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatories can also help reduce the pain.

Do I Have to See a Doctor?

Yes. Shin splints can be tricky.

  • If you have shin splints due to your foot mechanics, your podiatrist will likely recommend an insert or prescriptive orthotics.
  • Shin splints may also be a sign of a stress fracture or other condition that needs to be addressed right away.

How Can I Prevent Shin Splints?

Build up your training gradually

Training too hard and increasing your training too rapidly can lead to shin splints. Increase the time you spend running and your distance by only 10% a week.

Change Up How You Stretch

Tight calf muscles are the biggest problem when it comes to runners getting shin splints. Instead of doing typical static calf stretches, incorporate dynamic warm-up exercises. These exercises will do two things:  warm the body’s muscles and soft tissues for optimum performance and reduce the risk of injury from overloading inadequately prepared muscles.

Add Cross Training and Strength Building Exercises to Your Work Out

Building up strength and stability in other parts of your body can help prevent shin splints and other foot and ankle injuries.

Buy New Running Shoes

Worn out running shoes can't support your feet properly and can lead to shin splints. Buy running shoes from experts who know how to fit your foot type and style of running. Let them know you're prone to shin splints. They may recommend more shock absorbing shoes like Hoka One One. Read my blog, "How to Buy the Best Running Shoes" for more information.

Wear Your Orthotics

If your podiatrist prescribed orthotics, it's important to wear them every time you run. Orthotics last 5-7 years. If your feet start to hurt get your orthotics checked. Your feet might have changed.

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.
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