Shin splints and tight calves are some of the most common problems plaguing new runners. Even if you’ve been running for a while, you can still be at risk. Especially if you’ve recently returned from an injury.
Undeniably, running is loaded with benefits, like combatting stress, improving cardiovascular health and even shaping up your brain. Help for pain and discomfort from shin splints is at hand. The good news is, it doesn’t have to follow you into your next run or workout. With some easy and simple preventative measures you can avoid pain and get back on the road in no time.
Causes of Shin Splints
You are most at risk of shin splints, if you’re a new runner or if you have just returned to running from injury. As mentioned before, overtraining is often the cause of shin splints and sore calves. It’s easy to overdo it when you’re just starting out or have been longing to get back to your normal routine, say, after an injury. Increasing your distance, time or frequency may result in pain in the lower legs. Other factors at play also include:
- Flat Feet or High Arches: If you have these structural variances, you may be more susceptible to shin splints and calf pain.
- Wearing Improper Footwear: The wrong running shoes may increase your risk of developing shin splints and sore calves. Make sure you invest in a pair of shoes that is appropriate for the type of running you participate in.
- Uneven Terrain: Uneven or hard surfaces may place additional stress on your calves and shins. Ultimately, this may lead to pain or injury.
Less common causes of shin splints further include:
- Stress Fracture: The constant pounding of the pavement and the consistent stress placed on your bones may cause tiny fractures to occur. This may cause pain in your shins.
- Weak Ankles, Core, or Hip Muscles: Muscle imbalances and weaknesses may create additional stress on your shins. In this case, diving headfirst into a new training program or starting exercise for the first time are frequently the culprits.
- Not Performing a Proper Cooldown or Warm-Up: If you don’t prepare your body for exercise or perform proper stretches afterward, you may be setting yourself up for pain and injury, including shin splints.
Treating Shin Splints
Rest is highly recommended and is your primary way of winding down that pain and discomfort. If you want to continue exercising, low-impact activities, are your best bet. You could try swimming or cycling, for example. They are less likely to cause pain. This way you can keep up with your fitness level and avoid deconditioning.