We know that shin splints are micro tears (tissue) from overuse and inflammation of the muscles connecting to the shin bone. These are an athlete's nightmares as the soreness they cause is painful and can disrupt your training schedule setting you back weeks.
While shin splints are common for active runners because of the repetitive ground impound when running on the road, it doesn't mean you can avoid them by running on the Treadmill.
Causes of Shin Splints on Treadmill
Running downhill causes shin splints because of the added stress targeting your shin bone. In a way, treadmill running mimics running downhill because your feet drag back as it hits the treadmill deck, pulling your front foot onto the treadmill belt.
It's an accelerated repetitive motion, and overuse will lead to shin splints.
How to avoid shin splints when running on a treadmill is simple. Adjust the Treadmill from a zero incline to at least one percent incline to match the environmental factors of outdoor running. The reason is that the zero-incline of a treadmill is a negative incline on the ground or trail, which resembles a downhill slope.
You can also avoid shin splints by reducing your time (mileage) on the Treadmill. Treadmill running offers a flat surface compared to outdoors, where the terrain changes. It means running on the Treadmill has the same stride hitting the same spot, leading to overuse injuries. Preventative exercises like tiptoeing on the Treadmill at a slow speed.
Types of Shin Splints
● Anterior shin splints: They cause pain and soreness on your shin's front side.
● Posterior shin splints: These cause soreness and pain on your shin's back side.
Shin Splints Symptoms
Shin splints symptoms include pain, soreness, or tenderness on the back or front of your tibia. Pain might be accompanied by swelling or bruising on the lower leg.
Other Methods of Preventing Shin Splints
Always wear the right pair of shoes and orthotics to help reduce the shock and risk of getting shin splints. Orthotic insoles offer support to your feet. Consider wearing arch supports if you are among runners with a flat fleet.
Avoid wearing tight-fitting shoes as these prevent blood flow. Also, wearing shoes that are too loose isn't advisable as they often lack foot support.
Visit a podiatrist or get a gait analysis to find your perfect training and running shoe.
Even though you might be training or preparing for a running event, you can have various workouts non-related to running. If you can rest on your off days, do so to aid in recovery, but if you feel your body needs to work out, you can try active recovery methods through cross-training. Other beneficial exercises can include aerobic low-impact workouts like biking and swimming.
Before running on the treadmill, consider warming up, so your blood flow reaches its peak potential. If you run on cold muscles, you will have less flexibility, and running in this form causes stress on the shins. Increase your mileage on the treadmill gradually.
Effective warmup routines to try:
● Gastrocnemius stretch (calf stretches)
● Heel walks warmups
● Hamstring stretches
Listen to your body when it demands rest. Athletes can get overzealous in training and sometimes overdo their exercise to reach their goals faster. Pushing the limits to your body's tolerance will slow your progress through injuries. Allow your body the rest it deserves.
Just like other parts of your body, your shin splints require strength to operate optimally. Strengthening your shin splints involve exercises like toe and heel raises which help alleviate shin pain.
It doesn't mean waiting to experience leg pains and discomfort so that you can take rest days. Your training schedule should include rest days where you don't engage in any or too many physical exercises. Consider sleep, massages, or yoga for your rest day activities.
If you feel pain when not sore or tired from training, visit a sports specialist for a guided therapy session.
Treating Shin Splints at Home
You can use cold therapy as they are often effective. After running and you feel sore, you can relax with an ice-cold pack on your shin. Also, consider wearing a shin/calf compression sleeve when running on the treadmill.
Any sign of shin splints means that you should take a break from running. Your body needs to heal and recover on its own. During this time you can try cross-training exercises like biking and swimming as these put less stress on your shines and are also an active recovery method.
Exercising your shin splint muscles prevents it from recurring, especially after recovering. Heel walks and tip-toeing work the muscles surrounding the shin, making the occurrence of shin splints in the future avoidable.
Foam rolling is an exercise that relieves your leg's pressure points by offering myofascial release. Rolling over body parts on an exercising foam relieves tightness and sensitivity from the tissues that cover the target muscles.