The biggest mistake that athletes and beginners make is not progressively conditioning for their activity. At the scholastic level, I have witnessed many runners succumb to shin splints because they failed to let their body slowly become adjusted to the stress of their sport. Basically, Shin Splints are your body's way of saying "No More"! Then, they become a vicious cycle of pain...no pain... more pain. Many runners notice that once they get a mile or so into their run, the shin splint pain subsides. This is merely because the body has emitted some pain nullifying chemicals. The damage is done and it will only continue to get worse.... maybe even leading to a stress fracture. Running is most often done on extremely hard surfaces...like concrete or asphalt! Even all weather tracks are very hard, especially for an athlete with shin splints. So, if the ensuing warm weather has you ready to hit the road, be sure to take it slowly at first... think Jackson Browne & Glenn Frey "Take it Easy"....and, if you do, you'll be rewarded with being able to take it faster a few weeks later.
My advice for preventing shin splints are not to get them in the first place.....
- Begin your running program by building up the distance slowly.... almost ridiculously slowly.
- Following the first workouts (after a prolonged off-season), should you feel any soreness in the shins, wait until this pain completely subsides and then complete another workout that is just a relatively small increase in distance.
- Continue a small, non rushed, progressive increase in the amount of distance covered. This applies to all types of runners...whether they are distance runners or football or basketball players.
Failing to "listen" to the body is only asking for more and more pain.....