How to prevent shin splints

April 17, 2013

Shin splints: They’re the bane of every runner’s existence. More technically known as tibial stress syndrome, shin splints are a common cause of leg pain in athletes and can make it nearly impossible to run. In fact, doctors highly recommend that anyone with shin splints give the bone time to heal rather than push through the pain and potentially trigger a stress fracture. To keep yourself safe and pain-free, take these efforts to prevent shin splints:

1. Use the right equipment
Having the right home fitness equipment can make a world of difference. Some treadmills, like the TRUE Fitness Z5.4, are specifically designed to prevent injuries. The Z5.4 is outfitted with TRUE’s patented Soft Systemâ„¢ deck, which reduces the impact of your foot on the front of the treadmill while providing a firm surface towards the rear for an effective push-off. The orthopedic belt also allows you to adjust the firmness of the deck to further reduce leg and foot stress.

2. Purchase quality running shoes
Shin splints are common in people who have flat feet or small arches, which can cause the muscles in the legs to stretch too far during a run. To prevent injury, it’s important that runners have enough arch support. This can be accomplished by buying quality running shoes or adding inserts to make exercising more comfortable.

3. Get in some good stretching
An easy preventative measure for shin splints is thoroughly stretching prior to each run. Before getting on your fitness treadmill, stand on the stairs with your feet together and your heels hanging over the edge of a low step (hold onto the banister for extra balance). Dip the heel of your right foot below the step a few inches and hold for 30 seconds, then repeat with your left foot.

4. Try strength training
A key way to prevent injury as you exercise is to make sure you’re using proper running form. This is most easily accomplished by ensuring that you have completed the proper strength training to get your legs and hips in alignment. To strengthen your hips, try doing a few leg lifts as you lie on your side or get in a few squats before your run. To give your shins a good workout, try some toe raises: Stand on your toes for 10 seconds, slowly lower your feet, and repeat 10 to 15 times.

5. Get a massage
If your shins are still bothering you and seem to be prone to injury, try icing them or getting a massage. It will keep your muscles loose – just make sure you’re in the hands of a certified massage therapist.