Physical fitness is a key touchstone for both physical and mental health, but as with everything in life, there is risk involved in taking your aspiration too far and too fast. For those who seek to fill their fitness needs by running, shin splints are the most common injuries sustained among novices and professionals alike.
A shin splint is a general term that refers to persistent pain in the front of the lower leg, usually on the outer front portion of the leg, or on the back inside. This injury is most common to beginners because it is often the result of an over-excited runner who engages in too much activity before his/her body is physically up to the mileage and stress that activity puts on the muscles. Fortunately, by following this simple advice, you can protect your legs from painful and unnecessary trauma.
Take it Slow
Especially when you are new to running, it is vital to give your body time to recover between runs. By increasing the distance and/or intensity of your running too quickly, you run the risk of injuring yourself and end up causing your body more stress. To avoid the overuse injury of shin splints, one of the most important things you can do is listen to your body. Though it may seem contrary to the old adage "no pain, no gain," often the best thing you can do for your physical health is not push yourself too far, especially in the beginning. Do not continue to run through excruciating pain. Instead, ease up when the pain grows in intensity, and be sure to stretch slowly and gradually in order to strengthen your muscles and prevent injury.
Soft Surfaces are Your Friend
Make sure to vary your running surfaces. Continuously running on hard surfaces like asphalt and concrete increase your risk of putting too much stress on your muscles, joints, and bones, thus leading to a higher likelihood of developing painful injuries like shin splints. Try mixing up your runs by opting for grass or dirt trails, especially when you plan on doing longer or more intense runs.
Get the Right Gear
If you are going to commit to running as one of your main sources of physical fitness, it is important to invest in the proper gear. Replace your running shoes every 300-400 miles in order to keep the correct amount of stability and cushioning.