Many runners, particularly those who are just getting into running or starting to increase their mileage, will suffer from shin splints at some point. Whilst shin splints can certainly be painful and set your training back, they are very common and not considered a serious injury.
What are shin splints?
The main symptom of shin splints is pain that runs down the front of your lower leg (your shin), and you are likely to experience it whilst doing a high impact exercise such as running. The pain experienced with shin splints is caused by inflammation of the connective tissue that joins your bones and muscle in your lower leg.
How to treat shin splints
You can successfully treat shin splints at home by resting your legs for a few days (don’t be tempted to go for a run whilst you are still healing) and applying an ice back or bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel to the affected area. You can also use over the counter drugs such as ibuprofen to ease the pain and reduce the swelling.
Switching to lower impact exercise such as swimming or yoga can help to rebuild the strength and flexibility in your legs whilst allowing your injury to heal.
Exercises to help with shin splints
Making sure you warm up before and cool down properly after running, is one of the best ways to avoid shin splints and other common running injuries. Calf stretches and hamstring stretches, squats and walking lunges are all examples of stretches that you can include in your warmup routine to prepare your muscles for running.
Making sure you wear suitable running shoes that properly support your feet and running style will also help to avoid putting extra pressure on your joints and muscles.