Why Do My Shins Hurt After Running
“The first thing you should do if your shin hurts is to stop running. This may sound like the obvious answer but often it’s not taken seriously by runners. If you’re reading this article, chances are that you have been injured at some point while running. And if you’ve stopped running because of shin pain, I’m sure you know how difficult it can be. Injuries aren’t just physical; they also affect our emotions and sometimes even our mental health. You must remember that it takes more than just stopping running or doing something else to solve the problem. The solution will only work when you take action to treat yourself properly.
Shin injuries happen most frequently in areas where there are no bones or muscles – the ligaments, tendons, and fascia. As such, many people don’t realize that their shins are hurting until it’s too late. Shin splints are actually one type of injury caused by overuse. When we run, especially long distance runs, the impact forces from landing repeatedly on hard surfaces compress the tissues around the joints. These compression forces cause swelling and inflammation which puts extra stress on the joint. Over time, these repeated impacts can lead to micro-tears in the tissue surrounding the joint. Eventually, the body heals those tears physically through scarring. But the original damage was done years ago. It’s like a car accident victim who doesn’t get his brakes changed at least once a year. A new set of brakes won’t help him much unless he gets the old ones removed.
If you want to prevent shin injuries, focus on strengthening your lower leg muscles. Runners who strengthen their calves report fewer shin injuries than those who don’t. Stronger calf muscles allow you to absorb shock better during running, reducing the strain on your shins. They also provide a stronger base of support which reduces pronation, rolling inward toward the ground as you push off. Pronation causes excessive pressure on your shins since they act as both levers and fulcrums. Without good muscle strength, your feet roll unnaturally inward causing your knees to twist excessively. Excessive twisting increases stress on the knee, hip, low back, and pelvis. To avoid pronation, make sure your feet land under control so that they naturally roll outward when you push off.
To improve your ability to pronate correctly, practice jumping rope. Jumping rope strengthens the muscles in your legs and improves coordination between them. Doing the jumps in different directions helps train your brain to jump smarter. By practicing jumping rope regularly, you’ll learn to land under control without twisting your knees. You’ll also start developing balance skills that come in handy for other sports like football and basketball. Another great way to build strong ankles and legs is to walk barefoot in grassy parks and trails. Walking barefoot develops natural muscle memory in your feet and toes. Your brain begins to associate walking barefoot as something normal. It becomes easier to walk barefoot anywhere, including sidewalks.
Once you’ve built up your lower leg muscles, it’s time to strengthen your shins. There are several ways to do this. One simple exercise is to raise your heels slightly higher than usual and hold them in place. Hold this position for five seconds then release. Repeat 10 times per session. For best results, add resistance bands to the routine. Stand facing a wall with your heels about 6 inches away and grab the ends of two resistance bands. Holding onto the band with each hand, bend your elbows 90 degrees and extend your arms straight out in front of you. With your palms facing forward, begin bending your torso backward slowly while keeping your upper body still. Once your torso is bent all the way back, raise your heels upward towards the ceiling. Keep your heels raised for 5 seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times per session.
Another way to strengthen your shins is to perform squats. Squats work your hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and core muscles in addition to building strong ankles and calves. Start by standing erect with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend your hips and knees simultaneously, lowering your buttocks down into a squatting position. Make sure your knees remain aligned with your feet throughout the movement. Return to the initial upright stance while maintaining minimal contact between your thighs and buttocks. Try to keep your head looking ahead instead of focusing on your knees. Complete 20 repetitions before moving on to the next step. Next, try holding dumbbells while going through the same motion.
Your shins needn’t be neglected during training either. Weighted lunges are an excellent way to target your shins. Simply stand erect with your feet shoulder width apart. Take a large step forward with one foot, lifting the opposite thigh high behind you. Lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Then switch sides and repeat. Aim to complete 12 to 16 lunges per side.
Finally, your shins benefit greatly from stretching. Before exercising, stretch thoroughly to prepare your muscles for activity. Stretching prevents injury by increasing circulation and loosening tight muscles. During a warmup period, try alternating static stretches (holding positions for longer periods of time) with dynamic stretches (moving quickly from one position to another). Static stretches should always follow dynamic stretches. Static stretching helps reduce the risk of injury later on.
After you’ve stretched, apply ice to any sore spots. Ice works wonders on relieving pain and swelling. Apply the ice directly to the skin using a plastic bag filled with water. Leave the bag on for ten minutes before removing. Repeat this process every hour. Also drink plenty of fluids to replenish lost liquids.
Massaging your shins with an ice pack following a workout is a great idea. Place an ankle weight on your foot. Point your foot up (ten reps), in (ten reps) and out (ten reps). Perform three sets twice a day. Massage your shins with an ice cup for fifteen minutes after running and performing your exercises.”
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