What Causes Shin Splints

By on August 28, 2013
what causes shin splints

Shin splints are caused by sudden increases in the intensity or duration of running and impact activities. Repeated trauma from exercise causes excessive force on the tibia (shin bone) and the connective tissues that attach the surrounding muscles to the bone. What causes shin splints is a common question for many runners suffering from it.

Shin splints often trouble athletes building up the intensity of exercises too quickly without proper rest between the intervals. Shin splints can result from variety of problems and it is a common injury for both professional athletes and beginners.

Less experienced athletes are more likely to get shin splints as their bodies are less adapted to the stress coming from high impact activities such as running. Even skillful athletes are easily prone to having shin splints if they overtrain or don’t monitor their levels of recovery.

 

Most common reasons for what causes shin splints

 

Overtraining and sudden changes to intensity and impact

Most runners forget to slowly build up their mileage and to take proper rest between running sessions. Creating excessive stress on your lower leg muscles before they have adapted for the type of training is an easy way to induce painful shin splints. Quick changes on intensity or impacts to the lower legs can create shin splints quite easily even for the most advanced athlete. To avoid shin splints it is important to make subtle changes in your training methods whether you are professional or a beginner.

Weaknesses in muscle strength and flexibility

One of the reasons for what causes shin splints are tibia and its surrounding connective tissues getting too much trauma. The excessive impacts may be caused by the weaknesses in the tibialis anterior and posterior tibialias muscles, as well as the inadequate strength of muscles around the ankle. The recommended methods for healing shin splints often include getting proper rest and using the proper type of shoes, but they are often only partial solutions. One of the most effective ways of preventing shin splints from resurfacing is to do the proper exercises for shin splints and shin splint stretches for the muscles related to the tibia and ankles. In some cases having tight calves can also cause pronation problems.

Improper running technique and biomechanics

All runners have their unique technique, but improper running biomechanics can increase the chances of having shin splints. It is recommended to have your running style analyzed by a professional to understand whether you are an overpronator, neutral or supinator. Having a stride that is too long can also create excess force to the lower legs. Some have found help shortening their running strides. Having high arches may cause posterior shin splints and flat feet may cause anterior shin splints. Understanding the way your feet work is essential for choosing the best running shoe and correcting your running technique.

Hard, uneven and changing running surfaces

Hard surfaces are typically damaging for shin splints. Especially in the later stages of the injury, running on paved roads will further inflame your shins. Using softer surfaces for running and avoiding changes from one surface to another too often can help alleviate shin pains. Shin splints can also caused by running on uneven surfaces, or roads going uphill or downhill, as the stress to different parts of the foot increase. Track runners should avoid always running to the same direction. Many professional sprinters deal with shin splints in their off-season by running on grass.

Wrong types of running shoes (overpronation & supination)

One of the most crucial parts for preventing shin splints is to find a proper running shoe. After understanding your running biomechanics, finding the correct running shoes for shin splints can help to heal or prevent the injury. Several more advanced runners have also found help using shoes such as nike frees as it changes the running technique more to resemble barefoot running. Barefoot running may reduce the impact to your shins and at the same time strengthen your ankles. If you are satisfied with your shoes but want to further improve them, a solution may also be found by buying custom insoles that better match your feet.

After understanding what causes shin splints, we recommend reading how to treat shin splints , which is our comprehensive guide for understanding ways to get rid of shin splints.

 

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