Track & Field Tips to Prevent Shin Splints

Are shin splints ruining your track & field training? STACK Expert Giovanni Grassi explains what shin splints are and provides tips on how to prevent them.

Ever wonder why that pain in your shin increases every time you finish a track & field workout?  Aside from soreness, which you would feel in the belly of the shin muscle and still be able to move around, shin splints occur alongside or behind the shin; and they can sometimes be debilitating, forcing you to miss some playing time.

Performing proper track & field exercises can help prevent shin splints.

What is a shin splint?

A shin splint occurs when the tibialis anterior (the muscle of the shin) tears slightly along the bone, causing excruciating pain. This often happens during sprinting, the result of too much force being placed on the shin bone and connective tissues that attach the muscle to the bone. Shin splints are common among runners and those who participate in activities with sudden stops and starts, such as basketball, soccer or tennis.

The anterior tibialis, the muscle in the front of the shin, is responsible for the pain. This muscle keeps the foot dorsiflexed, or, simply put, helps keep the toes and foot up. The tibialias anterior muscle absorbs most of the force during sprinting, and depending on the type of surface you are running on, can prevent the pain.

Tips to eliminate shin splints

Here are a few tips to implement in your track & field exercise regimen to eliminate shin splints.

  • Icing. Icing reduces the inflammation of the tibialis anterior muscle.  Icing for about 20 minutes after a tough interval sprint workout or track meet can prevent shin splints.
  • Tibial Pulls. Attach a light resistance band to a rack in the weight room and place the band around the top part of your foot. Sit on the floor with enough distance between you and the rack to create slight resistance in the band. Pull your foot up toward your head and hold each rep for five seconds. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps.
  • Running Shoes. If you are experiencing shin splints or any type of lower leg problem after a running workout, maybe it's time to change your tires.  Many of my track athletes who experienced shin splints solved the problem simply by changing their running shoes.
  • Running Surface. The type of surface you run on always has an impact on your joints. The amount of stress taken from the ankle to the knee joint usually travels along the tibialis anterior. Avoid running on hard surfaces such as concrete if you are going for an early morning jog or late night run. Try to find a park where you can run on the grass. A track is another great solution, but the greatest surface to run on is turf.

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