Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, is a common condition among runners and athletes. It is characterised by pain and tenderness along the tibia, or shinbone. Shin splints can be caused by a variety of factors, including overuse, improper footwear, and muscle imbalances. While the condition is not usually serious, it can be painful and may interfere with athletic performance. In this blog, we will discuss some strategies to help avoid shin splints.
The first step in avoiding shin splints is to gradually increase your training volume. Shin splints often occur when athletes increase their distances or intensity too quickly, causing stress and strain on the lower leg muscles. To prevent this, it is important to follow a structured training plan from a skilled coach that gradually increases your distance and intensity over time. This will allow your muscles and bones to adapt to the new stressors and reduce the risk of injury.
Another important factor in avoiding shin splints is proper footwear. Wearing shoes that are worn out, too tight, or not designed for your specific sport can increase your risk of developing shin splints. When choosing footwear, look for shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning for your feet and legs. Additionally, replace your shoes regularly, as worn-out shoes can no longer provide the necessary support and cushioning. At Davey Black Triathlon Club Melbourne, we are fortunate enough to have Active Feet shoe stores on our support team who also provides amazing discounts to Davey Black members.
Stretching and strengthening exercises can also help prevent shin splints. Tight muscles, particularly the calf muscles, can contribute to the development of shin splints. Regular stretching can help improve flexibility and reduce tension in these muscles. Strengthening exercises, such as heel raises and toe walks, can also help build strength in the lower leg muscles, reducing the risk of injury. Davey Black Triathlon Club Melbourne offers strength and Yoga membership packages that will help build a robust base and reduce your risk of injury from training.
In addition to stretching and strengthening, Triathlon Coach Steve Davis says he may decide to reduce the running volume in some athletes programs to help prevent the onset of shin splints. Reducing run volume and increasing other activities such as swimming, cycling, strength or yoga can help reduce the repetitive stress on your legs and give your lower leg muscles a break. This can be particularly helpful if you are prone to shin splints or are recovering from an injury.
Proper running form can also play a role in preventing shin splints. Striking the ground with your heel or over-striding can increase the impact on your legs and increase the risk of injury. Instead, focus on landing on the mid-foot or forefoot and maintaining a shorter stride. This can help reduce the stress on your legs and improve your overall running efficiency. Davey Black Triathlon Club provides detailed run analysis through the pre-season months using live video feedback to improve technique.
Finally, it is important to listen to your body and take rest days when necessary. Shin splints can be a sign of overuse or fatigue, so it is important to allow your body time to rest and recover. Coach Steve says that incorporating rest days into your training plan and listening to your body when it tells you to take a break is vitally important and can help prevent shin splints and other injuries.
In conclusion, shin splints can be a painful and frustrating condition, but there are steps you can take to prevent them. Gradually increasing your training volume, wearing proper footwear, stretching and strengthening, cross-training, maintaining proper form, and listening to your body can all help reduce your risk of developing shin splints. By taking a proactive approach to injury prevention, you can stay healthy and keep running towards your fitness and race goals.