Shin Splints and How to Prevent Them

Do you run cross country or know anyone who does run? Have you ever heard of shin splints? Or do you known how painful they are? Or how to treat them? Shin splints are very common when playing a sport that involves fast stops and starts. Runners are easily affected when it comes to this kind of injury. You may ask yourself: Why? Well, runners are running up and down hills, and consistently running on uneven ground, an extreme force on the shins. New runners often get shin splints due to abrupt change in workouts.

“Having shin splints basically entails any ongoing pain in the shin area,” Maura Mittermeier ‘17, SUA cross country veteran. They most commonly occur in the lower leg below the knee, either on the front, outside part of the leg or the inside. Theories for how shin splints develop include small tears in the muscle that are pulled off the bone.

“What really causes the soreness is having a 'knot' or inflammation in your calf muscles, which presses against the tibia (shin bone) and causes pain,” elaborates Maura.

Treating shin splints takes a lot of time. Some tips to recovery include icing the area to reduce swelling, taking Advil, wearing compression socks, and doing calf stretches. Maura adds, “the pain is temporarily gone, but it returns from time to time--it’s hard to completely eliminate shin splints, you just have to control them.”

Shin splints, though, can always be prevented. Make sure to stretch properly, wear well-fitting shoes that offer good support, and avoid going up and down hills or uneven terrain.