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How to Prevent Shin Splints on a Treadmill

A Treadmill Tweak to Save Your Shins

Running downhill, even at slight grades, creates extra stress on the shin bone, which can lead to shin splints, those pesky and painful microtears in tissue where muscle connects to the shin bone. Not a problem on the treadmill? Think again.

A zero incline on a treadmill mimics a slight downgrade — a negative incline, if you will. To avoid this problem, run with at least some incline when on a treadmill; we suggest keeping the incline set to at least one percent — this setting better simulates the environmental factors of running outside.

Another factor: the amount of time you're spending in the gym. If you have recently increased your mileage on a treadmill, then be careful. A treadmill surface is consistent, whereas roads and trails vary, even when they are flat. As a result, every stride on a treadmill is the same, which can lead to overuse/repetitive injuries like shin splints. Try some preventative exercises, like walking on your tiptoes, to keep this common injury at bay.

Image Source: Shutterstock
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Join The Conversation
nancita nancita 7 years
Ohh, good to know. I tend to get shin splints when running on hills, so I have avoided treadmill incline, but it sounds like i should try a little.
lickety-split lickety-split 7 years
interesting. i have actually found just the reverse to be true. the high the incline, the more likely i am to get shin splints. why would that be???
lilCROAT03 lilCROAT03 7 years
um YEAH people don't believe me when i try to set their treadmill at a level 2 incline and they think i'm trying to make them 'work harder' (god forbid) but it doesn't just prevent shin splints but also...for people who don't know how to silences the foot pounding!
ilanac13 ilanac13 7 years
you know, this is something that i never really thought about. i think that we typically think that a 'flat road' is really flat so that when we're at the gym, it's kind of the same thing, but you're right - it's not. i'm going to remember this if i choose to run on the treadmill anytime soon.
princess_eab princess_eab 7 years
Good tip! Question: I am a very new runner and I never stretch. Can you do a post on what stretches I should be doing for a 2-mile 4.5 -5 MPH run? Or is there a good website? thanks!
0fashionqueen 0fashionqueen 7 years
I am in the military and my shin splints really do not start to bother me until I start to run for really long time and that is when it hurts the most.
0fashionqueen 0fashionqueen 7 years
I am in the military and my shin splints really do not start to bother me until I start to run for really long time and that is when it hurts the most.
katyharper katyharper 7 years
In my opinion, the two worst pains ever (now granted, I haven't given birth...) are shin splints and charley horses. Ugh.
urban-chic-101 urban-chic-101 7 years
Question, do shin splits go into the lower/inner back part of your leg/ankle. Since I started running on the treadmill, this seems to be happening to a lot. It gets all swollen and sometimes a little bruised. Plus, I stretch before and after and nothing really helps. Maybe this will... I hope so!
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
This is really good to know. Thanks fit!
MaggietheCat MaggietheCat 7 years
This is so good to know!! Great post! I couldn't figure out how I was getting shin splints from running on the treadmill, which is cushioned, and not from running outside on pavement! Now I know better and I enjoy running outside more.
xtinabeena xtinabeena 7 years
xtinabeena xtinabeena 7 years
Swedeybebe Swedeybebe 7 years
i HAAAAATE shin splints!!! argh!!! they always bother me on the first mile. thanks for the suggestion!
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