You get up early to go running. You are out on the city streets before anyone wakes up. It's a ritual you look forward to every day. You are enjoying the solitude. The rhythmic tapping of your feet hitting the ground keeps time to the music blasting from your earbuds. You are training for a big race or working toward a fitness goal and you can tell you are making progress and bam! You start to notice a dull pain in the early part of your workout. Nothing major, it seems to go away as you workout and might return as you cool down. However, the next day and the day after that the pain returns, dull at first but if you don't heed it's warning it can become very painful and cause you to stop your workout and lose some of that precious progress. Either side of the front part of your leg over the Tibia bone is very tender and might even swell due to inflammation. Sound familiar? You may have a shin splint.
A shin splint is considered an over-use injury. It is characterized by inflammation of the soft tissue of the lower leg between the knee and the ankle.
There are several causes of Shin-splints:
• If you didn't properly stretch or warm-up.
• If you train too hard or too fast (My name is all over this one)
• Run or Jumping on hard city streets or other hard surfaces.
• Worn out or improper training shoes that don't offer enough support. Going to your local running store and getting fitted for your foot shoes are a must if you are going to train.
• Running on uneven surfaces that cause the foot to tilt and slant.
• Bio-mechanical issues such as an unbalanced muscling between the posterior and anterior muscles of the leg or in some cases the feet. Exercising your Tibial Anterior through toe raises will help this as well as foam rolling and massage.
What Can You Do?
• See your physician
• You can switch your workout to stationary bike or swimming to maintain your cardiovascular performance level while you rest the area.
• You can bandage or use a Neoprene calf sleeve to help ease the pain.
• Anti-inflammatory drugs.
• Your running shoes should be specific to your foot type. Flexible Pronators vs. Ridged Supinators.
• Massage can help by improving the flexibility of the muscles. Shin Splints won’t happen when the muscle is supple.
If you have listened to your body and done the above you should be able to return to your work out in about 2 weeks. However, you need to take it slow. Run on a flat surface only. Do only about 50% of your pre-injury training both in distance and pace. It will take several weeks of gradual increases until you are ready to push yourself past your pre-injury training. Pushing it will only result in more issues down the road. Before you know it you will be enjoying that familiar cadence of your foot fall against the path and be back on tract.