How Shin Splint Sufferers Can Find the Best Running Shoes
Shin splints can ruin a good run or workout. Having the best shoes for those of us that suffer or are prone to shin splints can make all the difference. Find out how to pick the best pair of running shoes here.
Shin splints occur in thousands of Americans each and every year. Most medical professionals say the cause is doing too much too fast. If your body isn’t accustomed to running, you may want to slow down or not run as far until you build up the leg strength to prevent injury.
There are a lot of methods for preventing shin splints, and your shoes are just one of them. However, picking the right shoes is important to shin splint prevention and can be a simple task.
In this article, we will cover shin splints, how they occur and how you can prevent them. We will also examine what to look for when finding the best running shoes for shin splint sufferers.
What Are Shin Splints?
Shin splints are basically the result of weak muscles exerting themselves and becoming inflamed. The shin bone will bare most of the weight and shock when running, jogging or work out your legs.
The impact with the ground, along with other common factors can result in the stress of your shinbone and the connective tissue (ligaments, tendons, and muscles) that connect together. The medical term for shin splints is Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome or MTSS.
No matter what you call it, shin splints can be extremely uncomfortable. The ligaments and tendons can swell, making the muscles ache and tear. The shin bone itself can also become tender and may even result in hairline fractures if the exercise continues before healing.
How Do You Treat Shin Splints?
At their very core shin splints are just muscle strain and connective tissue soreness. You treat them like you would any other muscle strain or pain: ice and rest.
You should stay off your feet as much as possible, keeping them elevated when you can. You should also ice the shins down for about 20 minutes every three or four hours.
Be sure when you apply the ice that it doesn’t come in direct contact with the skin. Place the ice in an ice bag or sealed plastic bag and wrap in a thin towel. If direct contact occurs, you can damage the skin cells causing even more pain and discomfort.
You can also take an anti-inflammatory over the counter drug such as ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin. These will reduce swelling and pain for a short period of time.
Shin splints left untreated can last up to a couple of months. If you ice the shins and rest the legs, you can recover in as little as a week. The severity of the injury will, of course, factor into the recovery time.
What Causes Shin Splints?
Shin splints are caused by a myriad of reasons that are directly related to the muscles of the lower legs. Walking, running, exercise or even a drastic change in any of these events.
For example, if you normally jog a mile every morning and decide to amp it up to three miles, you may end up with shin splints. Adding extra weight to your leg day routine can also cause shin splints.
If you also have flat feet, you are more prone to shin splints. Flat feet, or overpronation, is when the arch of your foot falls when you step. The arch is designed to give us support and stability as well as cushion out steps when walking, jogging or exercising.
Having flat feet can cause the shock of impact to be absorbed by the shins instead of the arches of the feet. This added stress can result in shin splints.
If you workout and begin or end your workout without properly warming up or cooling down, you can also experience shin splints. The muscles and ligaments in your legs need to be warmed up and ready for the exercises that are about to come.
Likewise, they need to be able to slowly rest and return to their natural state before being asked to resume normal actions and support the body weight. Failure to do so can result in shin splints.
How Do Shoes Help?
Having the right pair of shoes is crucial to Shin health and the prevention of shin splints. There are several factors to look for when deciding on a new pair of shoes. If you are prone to shin splints, you should take the extra time to investigate the shoes prior to purchase fully.
The fit od the shoe is the most important factor. Shoes that do not fit right can actually cause shin splints. If your foot moves inside the shoe too much, it will place undue stress on the ankles and the connective tissue of the shins resulting in shin splints.
Also, if the shoe is too small or tight, the foot won’t be able to expand, spread and absorb the shock when running like it is supposed to. This will cause the stress of impact to be absorbed by the shins which can, as you guessed it, result in shin splints.
Your shoes should fit snug but not tight. You should have no movement of the heel either up and down or side to side inside the shoe. Your toes should be pressed together but have enough room to spread out when you take a step.
You should also protect your arches. The shoes should have arch support to help with the absorption of impact shock. If the shoes do not have arch supports in them, you can purchase orthopedic arch inserts or insoles. However, it is better if the shoe has them all ready to aid in a proper fit.
Inserts or insoles may add padding and arch support, but they will take up room in the shoe that is designed for your foot movement. Always test inserts prior to use for running or exercise.
Running shoes with mesh tops can also help. Surprisingly mesh top running shoes actually aid shin splint prevention. The air flow allows the foot to stay cool and dry, which can prevent foot slippage inside the shoe.
If the foot slips inside the shoe, the impact is resonated up the shins which can result in shin splints. This isn’t always the case. However, your shoe selection should benefit you in the most possible ways, especially in the prevention of injury.
When you look at the shoe, you should inspect the midsole. A lot of running shoes will have a half midsole, usually from the heel to the arch. If possible, you should seek a shoe that has a full-length midsole as the added support will help cushion impact and jarring while running as well as keep the feet level and sturdy.
Ankle support is also important. Most running shoes are low top, low ankle styles. This prevents rubbing of the ankles while running. However, make sure the ankle wells are padded. If they are not padded, they can give way and fold over.
If the ankle well folds over your foot has a higher tendency to roll on that ankle. While you may not even notice this extra twist to your stride, your shins will. The shins will attempt to keep the foot level causing undue stress on the ligaments.
The style of the shoe should be the least of your concerns. However, the waffle and weight will come into play. If the waffle is a single style pattern, it isn’t rated for all terrains or all weather conditions.
You should look for a waffle that has at least three different patterns along the heel, midsole, and outer edge. This will ensure your footing on all surface types in either wet or dry conditions.
The weight of the shoe is also important. The lightweight running shoes are better for you as they won’t cause added strain to lift the foot. While the running motion is mainly up to the hamstrings and quadriceps, the shins are responsible for lifting the foot off the ground and positioning it for the impact of the next step.
If your shoes are heavy, the added weight can cause shin splints to form. Lighter is better when it comes to selecting shoes for shin splint prevention.
Shin splints are an inflamed or aggravated muscle, ligament or tendon that attaches to the shin bone. Treatment is left up to ice, rest and over the counter medications to reduce pain and swelling. Depending on how severe, the injury can last a few months.
Your shoes should be lightweight, breathable and offer a variety of waffle tread patterns for stability. You should also make sure the midsole is full length and that there is arch support provided in the shoe.
Most importantly, your shoe should be a perfect fit. Without extra movement or restriction. Finding the perfect shoe can be tedious, but it will be worth it.