Keys to Preventing Shin Splints


We were lucky enough to attend a Shin Splints Prevention seminar at DeFabio Chiropractic Spine and Sport Rehab last month. Here is what we learned!

The first goal when taking up a new activity is to prevent injury and discomfort with smart training and preparation.

Unfortunately, a common ailment for runners can be lower leg pain. More often than not, it is linked to one of these three issues:

1.     Compartment Syndrome

2.     Stress Fracture

3.     Shin Splints

For the sake of this article, we are going to focus in shin splints prevention. However, if you are currently experiencing lower leg pain, make sure you have professional help identifying which of these may be causing the issue so you can treat it accordingly.

So, what are shin splints?

Shin splints present in the form of pain around the shinbone. It can vary from inside of the shin or the outside of the shin. The cause of the pain is that muscles of the lower leg, which are attached to the shin bone, pull on the  “periosteum” or sheath surrounding the shinbone causing pain and inflammation.

What can cause shin splints?

·      Doing too much running too soon

·      Sudden change in terrain (switch from pavement running to trail running)

·      Increasing running volume too aggressively

·      Lack of flexibility at the ankle, which causes extra stress on the soft tissue

·      Weakness in glutes a.k.a butt & hips- lack of stability/strength at the pelvis equates to instability down the entire leg, making lower leg muscles overcompensate

3 Steps to Help Prevent Shin Splints

1) Foam Roll

Foam rolling the muscles around the outer shin prior to running is key. This can help release some tension in the soft tissue and create a greater range of motion at the ankle prior to your run.  Use the stick or foam roll. When using the stick, the more relaxed the lower leg, the better.

2) Strengthen

  • Lower leg Muscles (Anterior Tibialis / Posterior Tibialis / Gastrocnemius)

In addition to traditional calf raises which can be prevented with both feet at the same time or by isolating one leg at a time... try this banded dorsiflexion exercise to work the front of the shin.

  • Hips: (Glute Medius)

These clam shell variations are a great exercise to incorporate into your cross-training routine for glute medius strengthening and activation.

3) Stretch / Increase Ankle Mobility