Ask an Expert: Shin splints

ITCCCA Other/Miscellaneous, Philosophy/Ideas, Sprints/Speed 3 Comments

My daughter is 17 years old and has just began her first ever season of track and field.
She competed in recreational soccer and did gymnastics from ages 6 to 10. From ages 11 thru 16 she competed in ice hockey . During the last 3 seasons of hockey and during the off seasons she was running approximately 12to 15 miles per week in addition to plyometric type workouts. Having always had good sprinting speed and though she is new to the sport she’s been directed by the track coaches to workout with the sprinters. The experience so far in part has been very good and has learned a lot about sprint specific drills and workouts. Her problem though is that she seems to have gotten shin splints .
I understand shin splints are not uncommon, but I’m totally bewildered by this happening to her ? As I mentioned she’s done quite a fair amount of running prior to starting track and is incredibly strong and fit.
As I look online seeking any and all information, it seem the bulk of the advice is geared toward long distance athletes, not novice sprinters. Anyone with wisdom for a wanna be sprinters shin splints would be much appreciated..

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Comments 3

  1. Usually we look to the mechanics of the foot placement and core. Sprinters look to place their foot under their center of mass on the ball not the heels. Should be running tall.

    Many people get shin splints by simply poor mechanics and trying to run while heel striking.

  2. Shin splints can be caused by several things and are often associated with overuse injuries prevelant in distance runners. Injuries from repetitive motion, bad shoes, uneven surfaces, too much to soon, new to the activity, etc. are common occurance. In Illinois our hs athletes are primarly training either in school hallways on hard surfaced or indoor tracks with tight turns. Both of which can really tear you up regardless of your event. Shoes are important also, a proper fitting shoe can make a huge difference half the kids that I see haven’t been fit properly. Visiting a run specialty store professional can make a world of difference. Have your daughter check with her trainer and coach for some rehab exercises.

    Good Luck!

  3. Jim and Patrice mentioned some very good points. I deal with shin splints commonly in my clinic and with my team, Plainfield North. Clinically I always want to see what the running mechanics look like, a thorough assessment of running form can clear up a lot of the lower extremity issues. A tight tibialis posterior can also be problematic. I recommend triplanar dynamic calf stretches if the calves are the issues. As Jim mentioned, footwear is very important, most local shoe running stores are very good at putting an athlete in the right shoe. Since I coach cross country in fall and sprinters in the spring, the one major difference I see in sprinters is that shin splints can be caused by slamming on the brakes rather than decelerating over a distance. Some sprinters have a habit of stomping on the brakes a little too hard rather than decelerating in a progressive manner. Shin splints can progress into a stress fracture over time so if a resolution can’t be made, either rest or a trip to a health professional with a good understanding of running and biomechanics would be recommended.

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