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For those of you that run regularly or are thinking about taking up running as a hobby, it is essential that you know to recognise, avoid and alleviate shin splints. Otherwise, your good intended health kick may come at a painful price.
A few years back, I asked one of our Instructors, sports therapist and former British triathlete, Polly Mosley, for any tips on alleviating shin splints. This is what she had to say:
Shin Splints, or Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, is still such a broad term even with all the research that has been done, which makes it more of a process of elimination when examining a patient and treating them! A few questions runners should ask themselves:
You may need to change your current ones if they look a bit worn or have lost their support.
If so, an alternating surface is good. Try running on grass or even sand to mix it up.
Too much too soon will stress lower leg muscles, so maybe ease off a little at the start and gradually build up your mileage.
Muscle tightness, especially the gastrocnemius and the deeper soleus muscles, can be a factor, so lots of stretching and massaging the calves could help.
Exercises that work the finer lower leg muscles are just as important as any other bigger muscle group, so isotonic ankle exercises with bands and wobble boards will help.
Once you have gone through this list, you may have a clearer idea as to the problem. I would advise anyone first to eliminate the aggravating exercise and do other forms of cardio if running is the problem. You can also ICE massage the painful area.
Seriously though, from my experience, DON’T IGNORE shin splints as they will only get worse and could even lead to stress fractures.