Picture this: you start the new year finally making some waves with one of your resolutions. You eventually begin working out. A while into your new routine, you may even be making some visible progress. But, then it hits you. You start feeling some pain in your lower legs. What gives?
It may sound surprising, but your new workout routine may not be the sole cause of your shin pain, commonly known as shin splints. You’re also likely to be wearing the wrong shoes during your training. Yes, the pains may go away if you stop your running routine or other workouts, but that’s not a great solution, either.
Here’s everything you need to know about what causes shin splints, and how to treat or avoid them.
What Are They?
People with shin splints can generally notice some soreness, tenderness or pain along the inner side of their shinbone. Now, there are many different reasons why your shin may be tender or hurting at a giving point, but it’s considered a splint if the pain persists and does not go away unless you either give up your training or treat it medically.
Sometimes, the pain can disappear for a while if you stop exercising, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods yet. Symptoms can slowly come back as either a stress reaction or fracture.
What Can Cause Them?
Several causes can trigger shin splints, but here are the five most common ones:
1. Intense Exercising
People taking up a new sport or a new workout routine can often experience some degree of shin splints. In a lot of cases, they can occur if you’ve previously had a fairly sedentary lifestyle, only to switch to a more intensive training regiment abruptly.
Moreover, even if you’re used to working out, it’s possible also to experience shin pains if you’ve taken on a new training routine that puts too much stress on your shins.
2. Wearing the Wrong Shoes
When you’re working out, you need a shoe that offers excellent support and cushioning. Otherwise, you can increase your chances of shin splints.
It’s particularly common for those who’ve added running into their routine to experience some degree of shin pain at the beginning because of the shoes they are wearing. You’ll need to invest in a pair specifically designed for this activity, and also take into consideration the terrain you’ll be jogging on concrete, grass, mountain jog, etc.
3. For Runners – Running in the Wrong Environment
If you’ve just taken up running, it’s important not to do so on the wrong terrain, such as hills or mountain-like environments. Your body is still getting used to the motion, and it’s far better to start training on flat ground, and then slowly build up if you want to run in nature. Aiming too high too soon after you’ve started training, as well as doing it in the wrong shoes, can cause severe shin splints.
At this point, you don’t have the right form for this activity but don’t stress about that too soon. If you continue your training and take it one day at a time, you’ll be running up hills in no time.
4. Exercising on Hard Surfaces
Even people working out in gyms aren’t excused from shin splints, particularly if their activity also involves jumping or simply running on treadmills. These are very hard surfaces so the exercise you do here can put some extra strain on your shins, which can lead to pain after a while.
5. Physical Impediments
Sometimes, a person’s physical condition can make them predisposed for shin splints. For instance, if you have flat feet or high arches, any workout regimen can put a lot of strain on your lower legs, causing shin pains.
Who’s at Risk?
Considering all the different factors that may cause shin splints, you are at risk of experiencing them if:
- You run, mainly if you’ve just started training;
- You go too big too soon, and increase your working period of routine too abruptly;
- You exercise on uneven terrain or hard surfaces;
- You are in military training or other physical programs;
- You have some pre-existing conditions.
However, it’s important to remember that under normal circumstances, shin splints are entirely manageable, and you can treat them successfully.
Avoiding Them Is Still Your Best Option
Though you can treat them, it’s always best to take a few precautions and avoid straining your lower legs. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are seven things you can do to prevent this unpleasant situation:
1. Analyze Your Workout
At the first signs of lower leg pain, you should analyze your exercising routine to determine whether you’re doing anything that can cause extra strain on your muscles. Either record yourself working out/running, or have a trainer review your performance and correct any issues in postures or workouts.
2. Don’t Overdo It
People have this notion that they must push themselves to achieve the results they desire. While it’s perfectly reasonable to want to aim high while exercising, you should never ignore any pain felt during the workout.
3. Add Shock-Absorbing Insoles and Arch Supports
Insoles and arch supports are great additions that can help reduce shin splint symptoms and avoid any other pains in the future.
4. Lessen the Strain
Sometimes, it’s wise to integrate other exercises into your routine to avoid putting all the strains in your legs. For instance, you can incorporate swimming, biking, or even walking with your running routine and give your body ample time to recover.
5. Don’t Forget to Boost Your Strength
Even if you want to become a runner and train for marathons and such, don’t neglect strength training, as it will help with your performance and improve posture.
6. Choose the Right Shoes
If you look back at the five popular causes for shin splints, you’ll notice that most of them are tightly linked to the type of shoes you wear during the workout.
The shoe you wear during exercising is incredibly important, and you should always opt for models specifically designed for the activity you wish to do. For instance, running shoes are designed with extra motion control, shock absorption and stability technology than other models made for regular gym use. Most sports like basketball or soccer generally warrant a pair of cleats, though it also depends and what type of terrain you play on usually.
Because shoes are so important in avoiding shin splints, it’s only natural to talk about how you should choose the perfect pair for you. Here’s some useful advice:
- Best to try before you buy. With workout shoes, it’s always best to try them before you purchase them. Even with online stores, make sure you check out their returns policies to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Remember, you’re not necessarily the same size across all types of shoes!
- Test a few before you splurge. Workout shoes come at all different sizes and prices, but before you buy a very expensive model, it might be better to take some cheaper models for a test before making a greater investment.
- Don’t focus on your gender. Yes, workout shoes come in models made for men and women, but you don’t have to limit yourself when looking for one that best suits you. It’s possible that a pair of shoes from the opposite gender to fit even better than the ones made for your gender because of the differences in dimensions.
- Try on the shoes later in the day. Your feet are slightly more swollen at the end of the day, so it’s better to look for workout shoes at this time to make sure they fit perfectly and won’t bother you while you train. If you don’t, remember that your feet might go up half a size during training because of swelling, particularly if you run, so account for that when shopping for shoes.
- Be on the lookout. With all planning and extra precautions, it’s possible not to find the right shoes for exercising on your first try. Because of that, you’re always better off exploring and testing different models before you settle on one brand or type.
So there you have it, the reason why you may experience shin splints, and how to avoid them and continue your training without issues.
And the secret to a workout routine without lower leg pain lies at least partially in the shoes you wear. If you’re on the lookout for some new training shoes, check out the Slick Shoes website for great reviews.