Athlete’s Guide: How to Prevent Shin Splints

sport injury

Whether hiking up a hill or running around a track, your shins deal with quite a bit of wear and tear during a workout. When you feel that signature twinge of pain in your lower legs, you may have a new case of shin splints. What’s an athlete to do? The bad news is that shin splints can put a major damper on your workout plans, but the good news is that it’s easy to remedy with a little preparation. Find out how to prevent shin splints, so you can get one step closer to your fitness goals!

What is a Shin Splint?

Shin splints are quite common in athletes of many different sports. High-impact exercises like running and jogging are most frequently associated with the condition, but walkers and hikers can also experience this nagging pain. Shin splints occur when your calves pull on weaker muscles around the shin, which results in inflammation. Those who are new to exercise are particularly prone to developing shin splints.

How do I Prevent Shin Splints?

Preventing shin splints is not nearly as difficult as you may imagine. It’s all about getting into good habits. Here are some tips to keep you going:

  • When beginning a new workout plan or changing your current routine, it’s important to go slow to give your body time to adapt. For example, you can increase your distance or your speed, but only one at a time.
  • Mobility is crucial, so you need to develop a solid stretching routine. Try loosening up your legs by stretching on a staircase. Keep one foot grounded and let the other heel hang over the edge of the step. Push your heel down and feel the stretch in your calf. Repeat on the other side.
  • Stretching your calves is important, but have you thought about stretching your hips? This muscle group stabilizes your legs, which can help prevent injury. Try side leg lifts: lay on your side and bend your lower leg for support. Raise your top leg with control for 5 to 10 reps. Flip on your other side and repeat.

Try cross training with low-impact exercises to bring up your strength without halting your healing. One great option is the UltraSlide lateral trainer, a portable fitness tool that delivers a whole-body workout. Check out the versatile Ultraslide 8H for a terrific home fitness solution.