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7 Best Physical Therapy Tips for Shin Splints Prevention

Updated: May 12, 2023

The following are 7 strategies to prevent shin splints and stress fractures if you run or play sports. In this article, we will review the symptoms as well as the best physical therapy prevention techniques.

woman running and concerned about medial tibial stress syndrome and risk for stress fracture

7 Ways To Prevent Shin Splints for Runners (and Everyone Else), According to a Physical Therapist

Have you ever had a dull, throbbing pain in your lower legs after working out? If this is the case, you could have shin splints. Shin splints are one of the most common lower-leg injuries among athletes and runners. They often affect those who make a sudden change in their physical activity level. The level of shin pain ranges from mild to severe. Let's look at seven ways to prevent shin splints and relieve lower leg pain.

What Are Shin Splints and What Causes Them?

Medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) or shin splints is a pain in the shin bone (tibia).[*] Shin splints are most often felt along the inside of the tibia.[*] This is where the muscle attaches to the bone. The most frequent cause is high-intensity exercise, such as running and dancing.

Developing shin splints are common in people who run. Shin splints develop if you run on hard surfaces like concrete, or if you increase your activity too quickly and start a new exercise routine. This stress on your muscle and bone tissue can result in tiny tears along the shinbone and contribute to shin splints and shin splint pain.

Track your runs with our running progress log to record any changes in your routine.

image of Brooks running shoes good for shin splint prevention

*Best Running Shoe for Beginners: Brooks Women's Ghost 12

Symptoms of Shin Splints

The following are some of the signs and symptoms of shin splints:

● Pain on the inside or front of your lower leg/calf muscle, just below the knee

● A dull ache along the inside of the shin that worsens with activity

● Stiffness or tightness along the inside of your lower leg muscles

Prevention Tips for Runners To Avoid Shin Splints

1. Warm Up

Take time to warm up your muscles before you start jogging or exercising. Do a few minutes of easy walking followed by two or three light jogging warm-ups lasting 5-10 minutes each. Dynamic stretches are also effective.

2. Ease Into Exercise

It's easy to jump into a more intense, frequent, or lengthy fitness routine all at once. However, these sudden increases can lead to overuse injuries such as shin splints.[*] Increase your mileage or exercise intensity by no more than 10% each week. Keeping a fitness journal can help you track your progress.

Learn how to increase your physical activity without going overboard.

3. Incorporate Strength Training

Strong muscles allow you to run with good form, lowering the risk and pain of shin splints. A study revealed that doing easy calf and foot exercises can help.[*] Try calf raises and toe lifts while standing in place for one minute. Repeat a couple times a day. You can do this during your lunch break at work!

4. Take Time Off

Resting is critical for shin splints prevention and treatment.[*] If you're feeling pain or tightness in your shins, take a day off from running and do some low-impact exercises until the pain resolves. If you run through the pain, it could lead to a stress fracture.

5. Work Out on Softer Surfaces

Working out on soft surfaces like grass or dirt paths reduces the impact of hard surfaces like pavement. Look for a soft running track or an indoor track with greater cushioning.

Asics Gel running shoes good for running on soft surfaces to prevent shin splints

*Best Overall Running Shoe: Asics Gel Cumulus 22

6. Buy Supportive Athletic Shoes

One of the best ways to avoid shin splints is to wear proper, supportive shoes for running. They should have a firm, well-cushioned sole and a flexible toe box. They should also have good shock-absorbing insoles. Be sure to replace your running shoes every 500 miles.[*]

Do you have a supportive running shoe with good arch supports?

Best Running Shoes of 2022 [*]:

Best Overall Running Shoe: Asics Gel Cumulus 22
Best Running Shoe for Beginners: Brooks Women's Ghost 12
Best for Concrete and Road: Adidas Ultraboost 20

7. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight

Increased body mass index (BMI) is one of the main risk factors for shin splints.[*] Maintaining a healthy weight is critical for avoiding shin splints and other injuries. Excess body weight puts extra stress on your feet, ankles, and shins, which can lead to pain and injuries. Losing just a few pounds can help relieve foot strain and lower your risk of injury.

Shin Splints Treatment and Exercises

The best therapy for shin splints is prevention, so following the techniques outlined above can help you avoid this condition. If you're experiencing shin splints, taking a break from running or repeated stress and icing your legs may help. Stretching after your run and correcting biomechanics can also aid in the recovery of shin splints.[*] A fitness journal will help you track your progress.

Fitness Tracker Journal

Writing in a fitness tracker will help you keep track of your progress and avoid overtraining, which can lead higher risk of shin splints or other issues. Journaling about your fitness goals provides a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.

Try our fitness tracker! This inspiring exercise journal will help you maintain a healthy life while being more active. You'll get a meal planner, 30-Day Challenge pages, journal pages, vision board, goal setting, and much more!

Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site, including text, graphics, images, and other material, is provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your specific condition.

Dr. Dawn's Wellness Tools social media handle @drdawnswellnesstools

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