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Shin Splints And Active Rest: Advice For Runners

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Shin splints affect many sports people, but the condition is particularly common for runners. The medical name for this condition is medial tibial stress syndrome, and the problem can cause painful symptoms from your knee down to your ankle. A bad case of shin splints can make it too painful to run, but many people make the mistake of stopping activity completely when they first feel the symptoms. If you think you have shin splints, read on to learn more about the causes of shin splints, and find out how active rest is one of the best ways for you to deal with the problem.

Causes of Shin Splints

Runners get shin splints for several reasons. Common causes include:

  • Running too far without training
  • Flat feet, which can pull on your tendons
  • Poor running technique
  • Running on hard or uneven surfaces

If you wear poor-quality running shoes, you may also increase the risk of shin splints.

The Importance of Rest

When you suffer a sports injury, you can often make the problem worse if you continue to exert force on the affected muscles or tendons. As such, podiatrists, physiotherapists and doctors will often recommend rest. In some conditions, any further activity is dangerous.

With shin splints, complete rest is not normally helpful. While this treatment method may help the pain of your symptoms subside, your overall fitness levels may decrease while you rest. As such, when you start running again, you may suffer further problems. As such, the best approach for shin splints is active rest.

Good Active Rest Activities

Active rest means that you temporarily give up any activities that will directly aggravate your injury, but you remain active in other ways.

Water running is a great active rest exercise. Use a flotation device and 'run' in the deep end of a swimming pool. This activity can help tackle running technique problems and boosts cardiovascular fitness, without exerting unwanted force on your feet and ankles.

Stationary cycling can also help with shin splints. Although you use your legs, you don't put your feet and ankles through the same impact movements you experience when running. As such, you can continue to train, while allowing your shin splints to heal.

Elliptical trainers are also good for runners on an active rest program. You can work the muscles in your leg, lose weight and improve cardiovascular health without leaving the gym.

Other treatment options

During any period of active rest, you should also consider other ways to help your body overcome shin splints. For example, a personal trainer can show you how to develop the right running technique. You may also need to invest in a better pair of running shoes. A podiatrist can give you expert help with new shoes, as well as other tips and tricks to help tackle the issue. If the symptoms are particularly painful, you should also regularly apply ice packs to the worst areas.

Many runners suffer with shin splints, and, without treatment, this condition can become very painful. Nonetheless, active rest is the best way to help recover from this injury.