7 Ways to Prevent Shin Splints

Tips to Avoid Shin Pain

Shin splints, one of the most common running injuries, is a general term for the pain that occurs in the front of the lower leg. The pain you'll feel with shin splints is usually on the outer front portion of the lower leg (anterior shin splints) or on the back inside of the lower leg (posterior medial shin splints). Here's how you can try to prevent shin splints:

Don't increase your mileage too quickly.

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Shin splints are considered an overuse injury because they usually occur when a runner (especially for those who are new to running) increases their mileage or intensity too quickly and does not allow for recovery time. Stick to the 10 percent rule when training – don't increase your mileage or intensity by more than 10 percent each week.

Run on softer surfaces, when possible.

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Running on hard surfaces, such as concrete, increases the stress and impact on your muscles, joints, and bones. It's important to vary your running surfaces. Try to find grass or dirt trails to run on, especially for your higher mileage runs.

Give yourself enough rest and recovery time.

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When you first get started with running, try to avoid running two days in a row, to limit the pounding on your muscles, joints, and bones, and give your body a chance to recover. Even if you're an experienced runner, taking at least one or two days off from running each week reduces your risk of shin splints and other overuse injuries. A rest day can be a complete day off or low-impact cross-training activity, such as swimming or biking.

More: Do I Really Need Rest Days?

Get the right running shoes.

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Wearing the wrong shoes may also lead to shin splints, so check your shoes to see if you might need more stability or cushioning. Get advice from an expert at a running specialty store to make sure you're wearing the right running shoes for your foot and gait.

Replace your running shoes.

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Running in shoes that have lost their cushioning can lead to shin splints. You should replace your running shoes every 300-400 miles.

Also see: Signs You Need New Running Shoes

Do heel raises and toe raises.

Weak calf and shin muscles are often the cause of shin pain. Doing simple exercises such as heel raises and toe raises can help strengthen your calf and shin muscles, to help prevent shin pain. Doing them post-run will also give you a nice stretch.

How to Do Heel Raises
How to Do Toe Raises

Avoid heel striking.

runner on sidewalk
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Heel striking, or when your feet are landing in front of your hips, can lead to shin splints. Ideally, you want to land mid-foot, or on the ball of the foot. Here are some ways to work on landing mid-foot, rather than on your heel.

Stretch your calves.

Calf Stretch for Runners
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If you feel mild shin pain as you're running stop and do a quick calf stretch. (If it's not mild pain or it's getting worse as you continue running, you should stop.)

Also, make sure you're stretching your calves after your workouts.  If your calves are really tight, massage them using a foam roller or other massage tool. Even just five minutes of self-massage after a run can make a big difference. Or treat yourself to a professional sports massage.


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