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How to Prevent Shin Splints

Hills, Inclines, and Shin Splints — Oh My!

If you run or hike, chances are high that you're familiar with shin splints. These micro tears in the lower leg muscle that attaches to the tibia (shin bone) most often occur from overuse — when you push yourself too hard, too soon. A calf muscle that's stronger than the muscles on the front of your shin makes you prone to this injury too.

We recently wrote that Jennifer Aniston pumps up the incline to maximize her treadmill time. The post prompted a reader to ask: "At what point or incline does this cause shin splints?"

Running with no incline on a treadmill or running or walking down steep declines can create shin splints due to extra stress placed on the shin bone. Running uphill is easier on your shins because you naturally push off the ground hard, so you end up using your hips more than your shins. If you're prone to shin splints and running outside, avoid routes that have steep downhill slopes and look for ones that are slightly uphill. If that's impossible to find, stick to the treadmill and pump up the incline.

Also be mindful of where your foot strikes the surface first. If you're a heel striker, repeatedly keeping your foot in the flexed position can strain your shin. On the other hand, if you're a toe striker, constantly engaging your calf muscles can also lead to shin splints. Concentrate instead on striking midfoot. Hopefully these tips can help prevent the dreaded shin splints this season.

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