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Running Techniques & Shin Splints

By Andrew Sheldon

Shin splints are common, painful injuries that are the result of excessive pressure put on your shin and surrounding tissue. Often, this occurs when you have a poor running technique. To prevent shin splints from developing, make sure to have a good running form that does not put overbearing force on your lower leg.

Shin Splints

Shin splints is a term used to describe pain running alongside or just behind your shinbone, or tibia. Shin splints are the result of too much force being placed on your tibia and the tissue that connects your muscles to the bone. Therefore, it is a condition commonly seen in athletes. Most susceptible are runners and athletes who participate in activities with sudden stops and starts. Shin splints generally cause no more harm other than simply being uncomfortable. Most cases can be treated with self-care measures and preventive steps.

Treatment

Shin splints can usually be treated at home. You should rest your legs by avoiding any activity that causes the pain to remerge or worsen. You can ice your leg for 15 to 20 minutes four to eight times to reduce pain and swelling. You can also take over-the-counter pain medication to alleviate discomfort. Return to your activity gradually until your pain has subsided.

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Running Technique

Your running technique is a very important part of preventing shin splints. A poor running form can put excess stress on your legs and cause injury. The main considerations when forming your technique are stride length and foot placement. You do not want to over-stride, meaning landing your foot too far out in front of your center of gravity. This puts too much pressure on your shinbone and can lead to shin splints and possibly stress fractures. When placing your foot on the ground, you want to try to land on the balls of your feet and roll onto your toes. Running on your toes can tighten your muscles and leave you susceptible to shin splints.

Considerations

There are many other steps you can take to prevent shin splints from developing. Make sure you have proper running shoes. They should have good shock absorption, stability and motion control. If needed, use inserts that support your arch.

You should increase your running program gradually. Shin splints commonly develop in athletes who increase their mileage rapidly and do not have the well-developed leg muscles needed to handle that level of physical activity. Exercises like toe raises can help to build strong muscles in your lower leg. In addition, always remember to stretch before any physical activity to help warm up and loosen your muscles.

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