If you’re new to exercise, and decided running would be a great way to get fit, you may have run into a few roadblocks here and there. Hopefully, shin splints weren’t one of them. In case they were, here is a way to rule out if your footwear caused them, and keep them from coming back!
Are You at Risk of Developing Shin Splints?
Check your feet and footwear. Do your shoes look overly worn on one side versus the other? And do you have flat, natural, or high arches? If you have flat feet, you should be wearing shoes that provide some medial posting for stability. Take a look at your shoes, and see if there is a small piece of plastic or harder material on the medial side of the shoes. If there isn’t, the chance exists you’re running in shoes that provide too much cushion, and not enough support for your arches. Every time your feet strike the ground, your arches fall unsupported; and, cause the various muscles involved to work less efficiently. Eventually, this leads to pain and injury.
If you have regular, or high arches, make sure you’re NOT running in shoes that have the extra medial posting. The shoes should have softer material that allows your arches to be cushioned when your feet strike the ground. If there is too much support, it forces you to run on the outsides of your feet, also causing pain, and eventually injury. This is because the forces of impact are being misdirected through the feet. In a utopian world, impact forces are directed evenly throughout the muscles and bones of the foot. This is achieved with an even, well placed foot strike with the ground.
One last thing that commonly happens is that people use orthotics with the wrong type of shoes. Orthotics are phenomenal in correcting the way the feet move while walking and running. But this can easily be messed up by buying the wrong type of shoes to place them in. If you place an orthotic in stabilization shoes, you’re adding extra stabilization to a stabilization shoe. In many cases, it’s too much and forces you to walk or run on the outsides of your feet as described above. Avoid this by buying shoes with neutral arch support.
To prevent shin splints, understand the type of feet you have, and shop for the proper shoes before you start a running or walking program. If you’re not sure what type of feet you have, stop by your local running store. Usually these stores have professionals that are able to determine your foot type, and suggest proper footwear. Buy a pair of shoes that are comfortable, and fit your feet well — your shins will thank you in the long run!