How to recognise, avoid and alleviate shin splints

With the new year approaching, many people are thinking about taking up running to aid their weight loss goals or improve their sports performance for 2014. However, for some of you that have tried running in the past this has come at a price. Last year I asked one of our Instructors, sports therapist and British triathlete ‘Polly Mosley’ for any tips on how to alleviate shin splints. This is what she had to say: Hi Jon 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 your clients should ask themselves: 1. Do I wear decent trainers?  They may need to change their current ones if they are looking a bit worn or lost their support. 2. Do I always run on the roads/ tarmac or running track? If so alternating surface is good, try running on grass or even sand to mix it up. 3. Have I suddenly increased my mileage? Too much too soon will put stress on lower leg muscles so maybe ease off a little at the start and build up your mileage gradually. 4. Are my calve muscles tight? Muscle tightness, especially the gastrocnemius and the deeper soleus muscles can be a factor, so lots of stretching and massaging the calves could help. 5. Are my ankles weak?  Exercises that work the finer lower leg muscles are just as important as any other bigger muscle groups, so isotonic ankle exercises with bands and wobble boards will help. Once they have gone through this list it may give a little clearer idea as to the problem-  but seriously from experience DONT IGNORE shin splints as they will only get worse and could even lead to stress fractures, so I would advise anyone to eliminate the aggravating exercise, so REST- ( they can do other forms of cardio if running is the problem), ICE massage the painful area, and check all of the above pointers! Hope this helps. Best Wishes Polly Mosley

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