If you've ever tried running as part of your cardio, you may have experienced the excruciating pain of medial tibial stress syndrome, better known as shin splints. Shin splints are defined as, "painful inflammation of the muscles around the shins; frequent among runners". Many factors can cause a person to experience shin splints.
One of the most common causes of shin splints is lack of stretching. It's hard enough to find the time to exercise in your busy day as it is. Stretching is a necessity for anyone whether you exercise daily or if the only exercise you get is climbing the stairs at your office. Muscle stretching increases blood flow throughout your body, and helps with your flexibility. If you have a rubber band and stretch it and work it out everyday, the more it stays stretchy and loose. If you just let the rubber band sit out, over time it starts to lose it's flexibility and stretch and will eventually, snap. Your muscles are like rubber bands that need to be stretched everyday otherwise you run the risk of tearing your muscles causing extreme pain. Muscle stretching after workouts also helps aid in muscle recovery time.
Another common cause of shin splints, believe it or not, is excessive running on treadmills. Treadmills are an excellent form of cardio, but just as any other exercise routine, you have to know how to do it correctly. Many avid runners aren't partial towards treadmill running versus pavement running. The reasoning behind this is, while running on a treadmill you never get the change in terrain as you would outdoors. Running on the same grade, and same surface can cause repetitive stress on the same muscles, whereas running outdoors on different terrain and different grades help get all of your leg muscles involved, not causing too much stress on one muscle. Running on a "zero" grade on a treadmill can mimic running on a downgrade causing too much stress on the shin bone, which can lead to shin splints. A way of avoiding shin splints if you are treadmill running is setting the treadmill on a slight incline.
Lastly, ask yourself if your shoes are really right for running. The right shoes play a big part in body mechanics and whether or not you are at risk for injury. Obviously shoes that are old and offer little to no support are never fit for running. Basketball shoes, although great for basketball, and wooden surfaces such as basketball courts, are not great running shoes either. Finding the right shoe for running is like finding the right way to sleep. If you sleep in an awkward position, you will wake up sore. Your feet need the support and comfort when running. Wearing the wrong shoes while running has lead to runners experiencing shin splints, ankle, knee, and foot problems, and even back pain. When shopping for the proper running shoe, ask the salesperson which shoe is ideal for the type of running you will be doing. Do some research before you shop for a pair of running shoes. Read the reviews on different brands, and types of running shoes. Just remember everyone has different feet, different running mechanics, and you should always try the shoes on before purchasing them.
In conclusion, shin splints can be avoided by proper stretching, proper running mechanics, and proper running shoes. Take the extra few minutes before your day to really get in a good stretch. You will find it makes a significant difference in your day and is quite refreshing. Now get out there and start exercising