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Shin Splints Demystified: How to Manage and Prevent Shin Splints in Recreational Runners

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Shin splints are a common and frustrating injury that often affects recreational runners, hindering their training and enjoyment. However, with the right approach, you can effectively manage and prevent shin splints. In this blog post, we will explore practical tips and strategies specifically tailored to recreational runners, empowering them to overcome shin splints and continue their running journey pain-free.

Gradual Training Progression and Rest to avoid shin splints:

For recreational runners, one of the main culprits of shin splints is an abrupt increase in training intensity or mileage. To prevent shin splints, emphasise the importance of a gradual training progression. The 10% rule is good for this. Gradually increase your mileage, pace, or intensity by no more than 10% per week to allow your lower legs to adapt and strengthen.

Additionally, incorporate rest days into your training schedule to provide adequate recovery time. Rest days allow your muscles and bones to repair and reduce the risk of overuse injuries like shin splints.

Proper Running Form and Technique to help avoid shin splints:

Optimal running form and technique can significantly reduce the stress on your lower legs and help prevent shin splints. Encourage recreational runners to maintain an upright or elongated posture, engage their core muscles, and land with their foot under their body to minimise the risk of overstriding.

Runners should ensure they’re using proper footwear specifically designed for running. Recommend shoes that provide ample cushioning, arch support, and stability for their foot type.

If you wish, you can have them properly fitted at a speciality running store. However, my advice is to find the shoe that you find most comfortable as running analysis can be over complicated and may lead people to buy unnecessary equipment

Cross-Training and Strength Training to help prevent shin splints:

The most underrated aspect of a runner's training is Cross-training. So many of my injured runners are not doing enough cross-training. Too little strength work, and too much running.

Cross-training activities can complement running and reduce the risk of shin splints. Incorporating low-impact exercises like swimming, cycling, or elliptical training will maintain cardiovascular fitness while giving their shins a break from repetitive impact.

Strength training exercises targeting the core and the lower body can improve strength and stability around the shin area. For shin splints, I will recommend exercises such as calf raises, toe curls and lateral leg raises to enhance the strength of the lower leg muscles. However, i would prefer my runners to strengthen all the muscles in their legs to improve their running and reduce their injury risk.

By implementing these runner-focused tips for managing and preventing shin splints, recreational runners can enjoy their running journey while minimizing the risk of this frustrating injury. Emphasise gradual training progression, proper running form, cross-training activities, and strength training exercises to keep their lower legs healthy and strong. Happy running, pain-free!

If you are suffering from pain caused by running, or anything else, get in touch to book a physio appointment sooner rather than later.

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