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How To Avoid Shin Splints

So now that the panic has sort of settled, and people realize that we are currently living our new "normal" everyone is trying to develop a new routine that they can stick to.


With gyms closed and limited equipment at home for weight lifting more and more people are taking to the streets in their beat up training shoes to start running. I think this is an awesome thing, but I am just worried about the dreaded "shin splints".


If you are not familiar with what that is, first of all congratulations. You have lived an awesome life because the pain from shin splints can be debilitating. Shin splints are when you have pain on the inside of your lower leg as a result of running. If they are not properly addressed they can develop into what's called "stress reactions". Those are a precursor to stress fractures, and can really put a damper on your quality of life. They are very frustrating to treat once you get to that point, and can take a long time to heal.


Talk about cancelling summer body 2020.


The easiest way to treat stress fractures, stress reactions, and shin splints is to prevent them from ever happening in the first place. The point of this blog is to give you some really easy and actionable tips to keep you from developing any sort of shin pain so that you can keep getting outside and improving your health even while we're under lock down.


The first, but maybe not the easiest thing is to be mindful of your footwear. Using the $10 sneakers you bought from Wal-Mart might not be the best idea when you're going out on a 3 mile run. They might look sporty, but they probably aren't made for that much pounding in mind. When selecting footwear to run in try to avoid shoes that have a ton of cushioning in the sole. It may sound counter-intuitive, but that cushioning dampens your body's ability to feel the ground and adapt to the forces. Much like how muscles get stronger with weight lifting, bones get stronger with running. It is also important to have a shoe that doesn't pinch your toes together at the front. Nike is notorious for having a narrow toe box and if you're not careful you might end up with mangled feet like LeBron James.



If you're curious about what shoes might be better to use I would recommend looking into Altra Running Shoes, or if you are used to wearing a minimalist style shoe vivobarefoot, or xero.


It is really important to build up the strength in your foot so that your muscles can maintain arch support while you are cruising along. There are a couple of really easy ways that you can do this. First, don't wear shoes inside of the house. This does a couple of things. it will keep you from bringing dirt and germs into your home (yuck, corona) and it will force you to rely on your foot muscles instead of external support from your shoes. By walking around your home barefoot you will start to develop the strength of the little muscles in your feet that so often get overlooked. You should also try walking around barefoot on different surfaces. Try walking over a bed of rocks (smooth ones), on the grass, or even on pavement. Giving your feet a novel stimulus will force them to build up strength in different ways so that your body is prepared for anything!


While you are actually on your run, try to only breathe through your nose. No, I'm not crazy my mother had me tested (any big bang theory fans reading this?) and No, I'm not kidding. It is a great way to build up your diaphragm/ core strength, and it will help you to build up your cardiovascular strength and endurance as well.


This simple strategy will keep you from pushing yourself too hard too fast. Shin splints is an overuse injury. Meaning it is the result of doing too much too fast without building up your body's capacity for that activity. So finding ways to keep yourself from doing too much too quickly will allow you to continue on the next day, and the next day, and the next day. After all, goal of your workout shouldn't be to be as sore as possible tomorrow. The goal of your workout should be to make your next workout even better. You can't get better if you're always in pain.


Are you interested in learning more specific foot and ankle strengthening exercises? Shoot me an E-mail at charles@mindfulmovementptnj.com and let's chat!


Stay safe and keep moving!

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