The Dreaded Shin Splints
SGT Thomas Canfield
Leading up to the APFT, everyone is hopefully training hard. However, this may leave us with an increased risk for shin splints. Some Soldiers may already be experiencing symptoms. With proper training progression and intensity, many Soldiers can avoid overtraining yet still maximize the benefits of their workouts.
What are Shin Splints?
Shin splints refers to pain along the inner edge of the shin. This is due to inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and tissues around the tibia or shin bone. Tissues become inflamed from repetitive activity that places increased stress on the area and may cause small tears in these tissues. Diagnosis of shin splints must come from a physician.
The most common cause of shin splints is a change of activity either by just starting out in fitness or by adding a rigorous activity regiment without proper progression. What does this mean? When a person changes their workout routine either by intensity, duration, or even types of workouts—they are at risk of over-training and injury.
Other causes may include having flat feet, high arches, improper footwear, and old footwear. In order to mitigate these issues, you can ask your physician to review your feet. You can also go to a running shoe store that can properly analyze your feet and recommend appropriate footwear. Some general shoe recommendations are to consider new running shoes every 6 months and only run in your shoes, don’t wear them during every day activities. However, many may have financial issues with purchasing running shoes every 6 months. Instead, make sure to buy proper shoes from a good running shoe store and only use them for running, not walking or every day activities. You may be able to preserve the lifespan of your running shoes by only using them during runs.
What can you do?
First, if you are experiencing shin splints then it is recommended you see your primary care physician to make sure there are no serious injuries. In order to progress safely, you must identify how much work you have been doing and slowly increase the intensity by as low as 2%. For example, if you are running one mile on Mondays and doing 5 rounds of sprints on Friday then the following week would look like 1.15 miles Mondays and 6 rounds of sprints on Friday. As you progress to the distance you want, you can then increase the intensity. Most importantly listen to your body and allow for adequate rest between workouts. Running more than 3 times a week can increase your risk of shin splints if you are not trained to that level.
The biggest key to prevention is to safely progress your intensity and duration. Secondly, you should always dynamically warm-up before a run and stretch following a workout. Invest in foam rolling the sides of your shins and calves after the running to release tense muscles. The application of ice can reduce inflammation. Rest between running can reduce swelling and pain mixed with proper running shoes. Again, if you believe you are suffering from shin splints, see your primary physician.
NASM Certified Personal Training