*Contributed by Jeff Henderson - MIT Head Coach
Shin splints are a beginning runner or walker's worst nightmare. You make the commitment to do exercise, and then BAM! your shins are throbbing with every step. Shin splint pain commonly happens when runners are new to an exercise program. Shin splints are due to an imbalance between the muscles that lift the foot and those that pull it down. Over-striding, running or walking too far too soon, and/or wearing improper running shoes can be the cause of shin splints. If you get the right shoes and cut back on distance, shin splint pain should eventually go away as you develop your shin muscles and adjust to your new exercise program. Here are a few tips to get you through the pain:
Strengthen your calf muscles with exercises Toe Raises can help build the shin muscles and improve their flexibility so you can overcome shin splints. Try writing the entire alphabet with one foot lifted in the air. Repeat with other foot.
Replace old shoes Shoe cushioning is exhausted every 400-500 miles, often long before the soles or uppers show wear. But these old, dead shoes can contribute to shin splints as well as foot and leg fatigue. You may consider a more supportive foot bed as well; the staff at Fleet Feet can discuss this option with you.
Alternate running days Run only every other day until the pain disappears. Try walking if running is too painful.
Ice Ice your shins every night for 20 minutes and always ice after your workout.
Warm-up before going fast Warm up by walking at an easy pace for ten minutes before you begin any running.
Stretch after warming up Stop and do your stretch routine, especially the legs, after your warm-up.
Slow or stop if you feel shin splint pain If the pain does not go away quickly at a lower speed, end your run.
Hopefully the pain of shin splints will never enter your running or walking career, but if they do, you now have the best tips to relieve them!