If you're a new runner and need to know how to avoid shin splints, I’ve got some great insights to share with you. I could go on about all the standard concepts around how to avoid shin splints.
Things such as avoid heel-striking, get some good shoes, increase your cadence (steps per minute), do heaps of stretches etc.
All those ideas are truly great points and will help you prevent shin splints. But the problem when you’re starting out is that without a coach or mentor guiding you through your technique, you’re just guessing and hoping that you’re doing it right.
How To Avoid Shin Splints: What Should You Do?
The easy answer is to get a running coach. But that’s a bit overkill for most people that just want to get fit or lose weight. What you should do is just get started. Your running technique will slowly evolve into a more efficient style over time. Particularly as you build experience, lose weight and strengthen your supporting running muscles.
But that still doesn’t answer the question: how to avoid shin splints?
Surely if you start out heel striking, over-striding, have weak muscles and generally have poor running form, you're bound to get shin splints right?
What if I was to tell you that you could do all that and still avoid shin splints? Blasphemy! Well new runners are doing it every day. And they are doing it through meticulous post running rapid recovery techniques.
Don't get me wrong. If you never change any of your bad habits, you'll struggle to hold off shin splints forever. But all you need to do is keep them at bay while you evolve your technique and iron out your imperfections.
So before I dive into those techniques, it’s important to have an understanding of how incredible the human body is at adapting to new conditions, challenges and environments.
You see, as you introduce your body to running, it’s going to start out in a state of shock. Your muscles will probably KILL after the first few runs (even if you had perfect form). And this is only the beginning of the transformation phase.
You have literally broken down the tiny fibers in you muscles and stretched your tendons and ligaments. Your muscles could have even started to literally separate from the bone. Surprisingly, this is all fairly standard when you first start to run.
How To Avoid Shin Splints: A Trick For New Runners.
Now, just picture your legs being in the above-mentioned condition. If you realized all this, would you still go running? Probably not right? It’s quite clear that if you did, those problems are basically guaranteed to get worse. And this is where most new runners get it all wrong.
If you did nothing, and just waited for your body to heal on it’s own (which it would easily) then it could take 2-3 days to fully recover. The better choice is to implement some post run recovery techniques and reduce that time significantly down to 1-2 days.
But here’s the CRITICAL point. No matter what, you still need 1-2 days rest, implementing rapid recovery and shin splints treatment techniques before you can safely run without causing further injury!
And this will continue to be the case until your legs are highly conditioned and have fully adapted to the rigorous high impact that goes hand in hand with running.
Now of course, if you’re just starting out and decide to run 5km on your first run (highly unlikely), then you are seriously exposing yourself to shin splints. Because the required recovery time will increase dramatically.
The key point here is to follow a structured running program such as the C25K (Couch to 5K). This way you’ll slowly and gradually introduce your body to running. The recovery days are inbuilt into the program. And most of the time will be enough to allow you to heal in-between runs.
How To Avoid Shin Splints: The 4-Step Post Exercise Rapid Recovery.
A key component when learning how to get rid of shin splints is the cool down. So the first thing you want to do immediately after a run is to cool down. Don’t just run all the way back to your front door and stop intense activity suddenly. This will bring on a heavy case of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
You may be familiar with the seriously achy muscles you get 2-3 days after a workout. Leave yourself time to do a 5-10 minute cool down. This could be as basic as a brisk walk. You'll then allow your heart rate to come down and prevent excessive blood pooling in your larger muscle groups.
It's unlikely that you'll completely avoid sore muscles when you first get started. However, you can certainly reduce the impact that DOMS can have.
Once your home, spend 5-10 minutes stretching. This is your best opportunity to increase flexibility without injury. It's much easier and safer to do this while your muscles and tendons are nice and warm.
Next, spend 5-10 minutes rolling your calves and shins using a foam roller. This acts as a deep tissue massage known commonly as myofascial release. You’d be amazed at how underrated this technique is for alleviating the stress inside the muscle compartment.
Lastly, ice your shins and calves for 15-20 mins. And if you can, foam roll and ice your shins again 2-3 times the next day as well.
How To Avoid Shin Splints: Self Assessment
Apart from feeling sore muscles, most of the time the pain from the beginning stages of shin splints is insignificant. So much so that you won’t know it’s there unless you seriously assess yourself.
This is why it’s a good idea to feel around the next day to make sure there aren’t any sore spots. And if there are, don’t be afraid to take an extra day off. In the short term it won’t make any difference to your fitness level. In the long term you’ll be able to implement a more sustainable exercise routine without getting injured. Especially when starting out. In fact, I've created an online Diagnosis Quiz to help you determine which type of shin splints you have. Click here to give it a go.
So this should be enough to get you started. And by doing so, you’re making 100 times the progress of those that are sitting on the couch. A lot of the time thinking that shin splints is a permanent condition.
But keep in mind that although you’ll be up and about, most likely your technique will be littered with bad habits. And you’ll need to gradually iron them out over time.
Spend some time working out your technique. Learn a bit about your body and your running bio-mechanics. Find out what shape you feet are, if you over-pronate, or supinate. And of course get yourself fitted with a pair of shoes that matches your foot and foot strike as you run.
Running is such a great way to explore the world and get fit at the same time. Don’t let shin splints ruin your plans. Get on top of it early and don’t let it get out of control. It really is about how well you can manage it when you’re first starting out.
I’d highly recommend implementing a strengthening and flexibility program into your weekly routine. The quicker you can condition your legs for the rigorous high impact of running, the quicker you’ll be able to achieve your goals – injury free.
And that’s why I’ve created this guide to shin splint stretches and exercises. Normally $17 but today you can get it completely FREE. Simply enter your name and email into the form below to get your copy. Inside you’ll gain access to 25 different stretches and exercises to fast track the conditioning process.
So what are you waiting for? Don’t leave it any longer. Make a start today and build the strong, powerful legs required to keep you free of shin splints forever. It really will make a massive difference when you first try to figure out how to get rid of shin splints permanently.
All the best with your future running adventures,
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Discover 25 Stretches & Exercises That You Can Implement To Pave Your Way Back To Pain Free Running!
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