5 Ways to Prevent Shin Splints

runners-shinYou don’t typically think about your shins until they hurt. But by then, you could be looking at some major downtime. A recent study showed that shin splints are the most common injury for new runners, keeping them out of activity for a whopping 72 days on average! Keep yourself active and healthy – check out a few easy tips to prevent shin splints from occurring in the future:

Building Strength

Shin splints often occur when your legs are overworked. That’s sometimes from a lot of mileage, and sometimes because your shins pick up the slack for body parts that are weak, such as your feet, ankles, calves, and hips, which support your shins. One easy way to avoid shin splints is to build strength in these areas. A few basic exercises include:

  • Heel Drop – Stand on your toes on the edge of a step. Shift your weight to your right leg and take your left foot off the step, then lower your right heel down. Repeat this same process with your left leg.
  • Monster Walks – With your feet shoulder-width apart, place a resistance band around your thighs and step forward and toward the right with your right leg. Bring your left leg up to meet your right, and then step out toward the left. Repeat.
  • Toe Curls – Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart at the edge of a towel. With the toes of your left foot, gather the towel and slowly pull it toward you. Repeat this process with your right foot.

Gradual Progression

Instead of running too much too soon, increase your speed and distance gradually. For building intensity and duration, 10 is the magic number. Increase your walking distance by 10% each week, while upping your run to walk ratio by 10% each week.

Cross Train

The impact of running can shock your system (another word here). Supplement miles run with other cardio exercises that are easier on your joints, such as swimming, cycling or rowing. Participating in yoga or Pilates is another great way to cross train and build core strength, which can help prevent injuries.

Arch Support

Minimalism may be the trendy new thing in running, but that doesn’t mean going barefoot is right for you. In fact, it may be causing you shin splints due to lack of arch support. Look for motion control or stability shoes, or add an orthotic insole to give you the support you need and keep your foot from rolling or overpronating.

Touch Down Mid-Foot

Hitting heel first leads the foot to slap down on the pavement, forcing the shin and foot muscles to work harder to slow you down. Running on your toes stretches the calf muscles in your leg. Try to touch down with a flat, mid-foot landing to avoid strain – a correct gait is essential to preventing injuries.

About Dr. Mautner

mautner-kennethKenneth Mautner, MD, is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) with a subspecialty certification in Sports Medicine. He has a special interest in the areas of sports concussions, where he is regarded as a local and regional expert in the field. In 2005, he became one of the first doctors in Georgia to use office based neuropsychological testing to help determine return to play for athletes. He also is an expert in diagnostic and interventional musculoskeletal ultrasound and teaches both regional and national courses on how to perform office based ultrasound. He regularly performs Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections for patients with chronic tendinopathy.

Dr. Mautner also specializes in the care of athletes with spine problems as well as hip and groin injuries. He currently serves as head team physician for Agnes Scott College and St. Pius High School and a team physician for Emory University Athletics. He is also a consulting physician for Georgia Tech Athletics, Neuro Tour, the Atlanta Ballet, and several local high schools.

About the Emory Sports Medicine Center

The Emory Sports Medicine Center is a leader in advanced treatments for patients with orthopedic and sports-related injuries. Our sports medicine patients range from professional athletes to those who enjoy active lifestyles and want the best possible outcomes.

Constantly conducting research and developing new techniques, Emory sports medicine specialists are highly specialized in diagnosing and treating sports injuries within their respective area of focus.

We are proud to be the sports medicine team physicians for the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Dream, Georgia Tech and provide services for many additional professional, collegiate and recreational teams.

Appointments for surgical second opinions or acute sports injuries are available within 48 hours. Call 404-778-3350 today.

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