The top five reasons that athletes suffer from Shin Splints:
- Training Methods: When you disobey the very important rule of “The Terrible Toos” and train Too much, Too fast, Too soon, Shin Splints are likely to appear. When you increase the intensity or frequency of training and when you increase the duration of training, especially if these changes are abrupt, Shin Splints may become a problem.
- Training Surfaces: Training on hard or uneven surfaces especially if you have never done this type of training before can cause that awful pain to surface. Workouts on a very hard surface like concrete or conversely on uneven terrain such as sand or snow can be the catalyst for painful shins.
- Muscle Dysfunction and Inflexibility: Biomechanical abnormalities such as muscle imbalances and misalignments are a major cause of this annoying problem. Overpronation of the foot at the sub-talar joint and inflexibility of the calf musculature are especially troublesome factors that increase the likelihood of shin pain and painful Shin Splints
- Shoe Selection: There is plenty of mis-information as to what is the best shoe for a particular athlete doing a particular activity. Improper shoe selection is one of the most common causes of Shin Splints, and choosing the correct shoe is one of the easiest ways to get on the path to recovery.
- Biomechanics of Running: Improper technique or form when running is a major cause of running injuries like Shin Splints. Over a lifetime we have taken on postural or other repetitive habits that have tightened up certain muscles and have weakened others. The biggest factor that I see in my practice is that in almost every case, Shin Splints sufferers are not using their Gluteal musculature in a functional way. That’s right….your butt is causing your Shin Splints. Who knew?
So What Can You Do About it? Knowing what causes the problem is your first step on the road to the solution. If you make some changes with respect to the 5 factors that we discussed in this article as to what causes Shin Splints, you will be on your way to effective Shin Splints treatment and a positive change for your shins.
Dr. Peggy Malone is a Chiropractor and an Athlete who helps other athletes to overcome injury and get back to their sport. She also inspires patients from all walks of life to take control of their health to be as happy and as healthy as they can be.
A former varsity Basketball and Rugby player, she has since entered the world of endurance athletics where she has completed 2 Ironman Triathlons, 3 Marathons, several Half Marathons and many other Triathlons, Road Races and Off-Road Adventure races of varying distances.
Her own athletic endeavors and injuries have given her valuable insight into working with athletes in her practice for both the care of injuries as well as for the improvement of athletic performance.
Great post Dr. Peggy! I've only had shin splints once and they were horrible. I'm pretty positive it was due to training too hard and too much in the beginning. It is just so darn tempting to push your limits when you are getting started though! Thanks for the reminder — patience pays!