Posts Tagged ‘running injuries’

What are Shin Splints?

Shin splints plague runners like flies on picnic food. If you’re one of the runners haunted by shin splints, you already know the symptoms: pain in your lower legs, especially in the shin area. The pain can strike anywhere from your ankles to your knees, and can also cause some swelling. Shin splints usually start out by causing pain while you run, but can progress to cause pain that lasts for days after running.

Running on pavement can trigger shin splints.

Causes

Shin splints are caused by too much pressure being placed on your shinbones and surrounding tissue. Running on pavement, adding lots of miles to your workouts too quickly, having flat feet without the proper arch supports, wearing work out running shoes and overtraining can cause shin splints in runners. Shin splints are also common in basketball, soccer and tennis, sports with a lot of running, stopping and starting.

Treatment

If you continue to run with shin splints, your pain will only get worse. Here are five steps to take to get rid of shin splints and be on your way to running strong and pain-free again:

  1. Rest. Avoid running and any activity that triggers your shin pain until you are healed and can run pain-free.
  2. Ice your shins for 15 to 20 minute sessions, four to eight times a day for several days.
  3. Elevate your shins when you are resting so your affected area is higher than your heart. Use pillows to help prop your legs up.
  4. Assess your shoes. If you have worn out running shoes, that may be the culprit for your shin problems. Also, get inserts with arch supports to place in your shoes for extra cushioning for your shins. Make sure you have the right type of running shoes for your foot type.
  5. Cross train to maintain your fitness while your body heals. Try low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling or water running.
If your pain continues or worsens, see your doctor, trainer or physical therapist. You may have a stress fracture or your shin splints may have escalated to a level that self-care won’t alleviate.

When it comes to running injuries, a little bit of commonsense can go a long way. The best way to prevent injuries is to run in suitable shoes for your foot type and training habits (see “How to Find the Best Running Shoes“), and listen to your body. I know it sounds simple, but the first and most effective remedy for all injuries is to rest (of course, discounting 911 emergencies like a heart attack or getting hit by a car).

If you feel a sharp or lasting pain while running, stop and rest. It sounds simple but you’d be surprised at how many runners continue pushing through injuries, making their condition worse by continuing to run. We all want to perform well and push through the pain, but learning to listen to your body and quit instead of making an injury worse can save you weeks and even months of training time that you’d lose by running on the injury.

Here are five signs of injury to watch for when running:

If you need a break from running due to an injury, cross training can help you stay in shape.

  • Sudden sharp or throbbing pain in a muscle
  • Aching joint or tendon
  • Lasting pain in your shins, knees or ankles after you run
  • Soreness in your hips or back
  • Shoulder or arm tightness or pain
Follow the R.I.C.E. method when treating new injuries: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Rest your body and take a break from running. Ice your sore area for at least 10 minutes with an ice pack or ice double-bagged in sandwich bags. Compress the area by wrapping it in an ACE bandage. And elevate the injured body part using pillows or a couch or chair to help.
If your pain persists despite resting and using the R.I.C.E. method, see a trainer, your doctor or a physical therapist, as some injuries require medical treatment.