Most people don't even think about their shins until they start to hurt - and by that point, you're already looking at the potential of some serious downtime. Recent studies found that it takes around 71 days on average to recover from shin splints (the term for the pain that occurs on the front side of the lower leg). Shin splints often occur when you're overworking your legs, without giving them the support that they need. Sometimes, this is because you try to take your mileage up a notch on the track, and other times, it's down to an injury that you simply couldn't prevent. Either way, since your shins often pick up the slack for weaker body parts, you need them to be healthy and fully-functioning if you want to continue with your day-to-day activities.
To keep yourself in fighting form and avoid crippling pains that might demolish your future workouts, try the following tips to avoid shin splints.
1. Use a Supportive Shoe
Footwear helps to absorb the hard impacts that your joints experience during running, and support your feet and shins throughout a workout. While minimalism may seem like a good idea in your home, it's a terrible option for your feet, as you should be looking for running shoes that are designed to offer comfort, support, and stability. Remember, when it comes to finding the perfect shoe, size does count, so try on anything you think might work for you before you even think about buying it.
At the same time, no matter how cozy your old worn-out shoes might be, keep in mind that using old sneakers to run is one of the most common causes of shin splints. If you don't run often, you'll need to replace your shoes once a year - if you do, then you'll need to shop around once every 300 miles.
2. Learn to Support your Calves
If your calves have no strength and support, then your shins are left to take the full brunt of your workout, meaning that you'll be more likely to suffer from injuries. With that in mind, it's a good idea to get involved with some strength training that will help to build up the muscles in your lower legs - something that you have probably already considered if you've began running more frequently. While you're working out, use leg support socks to professional compress the calf and prevent discomfort or splints in weaker legs. You'll thank yourself for it later.
It can also be a good idea to stretch your calves before you start running, as tight calves frequently lead to shin stress. Stretch periodically throughout the day - particularly after a run. Remember, the more you take care of your shins and feet, the less likely you are to suffer from overuse issues from running.
3. Give Your Shins a Break
Finally, even if you love running, it doesn't have to be the only thing you do to get fit. In fact, the impact of constantly running can easily shock your system. Alternating your running days with days of low-impact exercise will help you to strengthen your supporting muscles, while giving your shins a much-needed break. Try breaking up your routine with rowing, swimming, or cycling.
You may also find that by adding some variety to your workout, you begin to lose weight faster too. After all, research suggests that the more frequently we do a certain exercise, the less challenging it becomes, and the less of an impact it has on our weight and over-all health.