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Preventing Shin Splints

By Brad Walker
Flexibility Expert
Updated: December 10, 2008
As with any sports injury, it's always best to take steps to prevent it rather than trying to fix it after it happens. Shin splints are no exception. Much of the literature concerning shin splints is directed at treatments, but very little is written about prevention. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to reduce your chance of getting this pain.

Adequate Footwear

About half of all shin splints are cause from biomechanics inadequacies, and most of these are the result of bad shoes. Spending extra money for the ideal shoes is a small price to pay to avoid the pain of shin splints. A podiatrist can help you find the best type of shoes for your feet by doing a gait analysis.

Warm up

Before doing any exercise routine, warm up your muscles and tendons completely. This prepares them for the activity you're about to do so they can get loose. A proper warm up also increases blood flow to the muscle groups, reducing their risk for pain and injury.


Loose muscle move more freely and help prevent injury. When your lower leg muscles are stretched properly, they are more flexible and they can perform better. If the muscles are tight, though, they get pushed beyond their natural range of motion too easily and become overstretched. Be sure to include a comprehensive stretching routine as part of any exercise or workout routine.
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Stronger leg muscles don't get fatigued as quickly or as often as weaker leg muscles. Be sure to include strengthening exercises for your lower legs with any routine. Many exercises are specifically designed to help prevent shin splints and you can find some of those exercises here. This article has an extensive section relating to shin splints and exercises you can use to avoid them.

Treating Shin Splints

Although you can take several steps to prevent shin splints from occurring, there is still a chance that you might get them from time to time. When you do, follow these steps to treat the problem and reduce the pain.

- Use the R.I.C.E.R. method – rest, ice, compression, elevation and referral. Do this method for the first 48 to 72 hours to relieve any pain and swelling that may occur. Immediate action also gives you the best chance for a complete recovery.

- Apply heat and massage to the affected area. Unlike other muscle injuries like an ankle sprain, the muscles and tendons involved in shin splints are relieved quicker when heat is applied. In between putting heat on the area, give it a deep tissue massage for a few minutes at a time.

- Move to the rehabilitation phase. Do some exercises and activities to regain strength and flexibility throughout your lower leg.

Finally, recognize the reason for the shin splints and remove the source. If it was the result of bad shoes, get better ones. If it was the result of running on uneven ground, avoid doing that in the future.
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