If you
are an avid runner, dancer, or athlete, you may have experienced shin
splints at one point or another. Shin splints are characterized by
pain and inflammation in the front part of the lower legs, and
effects more than 3 million Americans each year.
There
are many causes for shin splints, but the most common reason is a
sudden increase in your level of activity – whether you are
boosting the frequency, duration, or intensity of your workouts.
Other factors that contribute to shin splints include having flat
feet and wearing worn-out shoes during exercise.
If you
suffer from shin splints, you will be able to tell, as the pain level
in the shins is usually significant enough to hinder or even
completely prevent you from working out. Once they occur, shin
splints can take several weeks to fully heal, so your best bet is to
prevent them from happening in the first place.
Here
are some quick tips to prevent shin splints:
  • Limit running to
    three times per week.
    If you
    want additional cardio, turn to low-impact exercises such as
    swimming and cycling.
  • Gradually increase
    your activity level.
    Prevent
    your muscles from wearing out by slowly upping the distance that you
    run or the intensity of your workouts.
  • Wear well-fitting
    shoes with good arch support.
    Replace
    your running shoes every 300-500 miles.
  • Avoid running on
    hills or hard surfaces.
    Running
    on inclined, declined, or hard surfaces such as asphalt have all
    proven to increase your risk of shin splints.
  • Stretch before and
    after your workouts.
    Proper
    stretching can help prevent a variety of injuries, and shin splints
    are no exception.
To
learn more about shin splints, check out this article from the
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
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