Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) is the pain you feel along the inner aspect of your shin bone. It is a result of repeated stress on your shin. Several factors may cause shin splints and most of them are preventable. If you are aware of the preventable causes of shin splints, you can easily avoid them and prevent or reduce the risk of developing shin splints.
Here are 10 common causes of shin splints that can be easily prevented.
1. Overtraining yourself – This is especially true for athletes who run miles and miles, training for races without giving themselves a break. These people are at a high risk of developing shin splints. Give your body a small rest in between your training schedules to let the sore muscles to heal and reduce the stress on the shin bone.
2. Overuse – Running is a high impact exercise. Running continuously and overusing your muscles also increases the risk of shin splints. The constant pounding on your shin bone is the cause for this and can lead to shin splints with time.
3. Running on rough and hard surfaces – Rough surfaces, such as concrete sidewalks and pavements, increase the stress on your shin bone and the lower leg muscles. This can put you at risk of shin splints. It is a better idea to run on smooth soft surfaces such as grass and dirt roads, especially for new runners.
4. Increasing the running distance too quickly – Increasing the distance you run by too much too quickly is another risk factor for shin splints. It increases the likelihood of you developing shin splints in the future. Never increase your mileage more than 10% each week. Always stick to this 10% rule when adding miles or speed to your running routine.
5. Not warming up before running – Warm up properly before you start to run. Warming up helps reduce the risk of injuries.
6. Running with a stress fracture – Tiny cracks occur in your leg bones due to constant pounding on the leg bones while running. If you do not give your body the adequate rest it needs to heal these stress fractures, these can grow larger with time and worsen the condition. Therefore, if you have suffered from a stress fracture before, rest well until it is completely healed before you start to run again.
7. Not wearing the right shoes – Wearing old, worn-out shoes can also contribute to the development of stress fractures. Change your shoes if they are old and worn out. Choose a pair of shoes that fits you, is comfortable, and has good motion-control features.
8. Running downhill – Running downhill has a high impact on the shin bones and can therefore put you at risk of developing shin splints in the future. Therefore, limit running downhill or down the stairs and slowly incorporate them into your training schedule.
9. Weak leg muscles – Shin splints can easily occur in those with weak shin muscles and tight calves. Do some stretching and strengthening exercises to strengthen your lower leg muscles and reduce the stress on your shin bone.
10. Increasing your running speed too much too fast – Increasing your running speed can also increase the risk of shin splints. It is important that you progressively but slowly increase your speed by no more than 10% per week.