The first and most common injury for those who have just started a running or walking routine is shin splints. Shin splints are a result of inflammation in the front of the lower leg and happen when you begin to awaken muscle, tendons and ligaments you haven’t used in a while. There are small ligaments and tendons that attach the shin bone to the larger muscle tissue that usually cause the beginning of shin split symptoms.
Inflammation is the culprit behind feeling the pain. Reducing inflammation as soon as possible is key to continuing with your fitness program. If you are feeling pain or soreness in the front of your shins make sure to add the following suggestions into your routine.
- Ice – Ice the front of your legs 10 to 15 minutes several times a day. Ice reduces inflammation and which in turn reduces the feeling of pain.
- Elevate – Keep you the injured leg elevated as much as possible. If you work at a desk prop your foot or feet up. If you watch television in the evening keep your feet propped up. Any other opportunity you see to stay off your feet during the initial onset of what is often described as shin splints will reduce the inflammation.
- Ibuprofen – Take the recommended daily dose of ibuprofen. Sort of like antibiotics, stay on the ibuprofen for a few days to reduce the inflammation without letting it pop right back up again. Don’t let the inflammation go and then do something about it, then let it get away from you again, then get on top of it again…. that is the roller coaster way to treat your injury causing it to stay around longer. Stay active for a few days in reducing inflammation and your injury will be behind you much quicker.
- Stretch – stretching is important to assist with getting your flexibility back. Inactivity over even a short period of time causes your muscle tissue to shorten and feel much tighter. Stretching and warming up will assist with keeping your muscles pliable becoming longer and more flexible. Stretching is something we should learn from our dogs as well. Notice how many times your dog stretches during the day, starting with the first wake up call in the morning.
As with running in the beginning try not to get too over zealous with it. It seems to be human nature to do nothing or over due it. Start gradually. Don’t try and touch your toes if it is difficult to make it even to halfway down. No reason to push the envelope. Instead start practicing your stretching routine so that you get better at it over time. It is the theme of everything, good dog training, learning how to stay on a running or walking fitness program.
Dogs don’t seem to complain of shin splints so much. Who knows…. if your dog could speak and complain about something, it might possibly be shin splints when starting a new fitness routine…. but then again, I would think that action speaks louder than words. Since I don’t see my dog limping around after our workout, I’m thinking that shin splits aren’t such a problem.
Perhaps it is due to the fact that dogs stretch on a natural basis. They stretch when they get up in the morning, several times throughout the day and before going to bed. Just perhaps we should adopt some of the dog’s happy go lucky attitude and start stretching more just because it feels good!
Even though your dog’s body seems to take to the new exercise well, take precaution for your dog when starting a new running or walking routine by building the time and distance you are are walking and running gradually. As written in the 5K Cross Training Guide, a combination of walking and running while building time and distance will keep you from injury and it will keep your dog in fabulous shape as well.
Walking or running on softer surfaces such as trails instead of sidewalks and pavement is nice on your muscles and ligaments and it’s a great precaution to take for your dog’s body too. If your only choice is to walk or run on a harder surface, by all means don’t use that as an excuse not to start or to put it off until you get drive yourself to a trail.
Mix up your training with your dog by making it easy on yourself, leaving straight from your door even if pavement is your option. Plan one day a week where you go to an urban trail. The variety of places you take your dog will only add to how well balanced and well behaved your dog will end up through getting fit with you.
Go out and have some fun.
©Jt Clough and K9 Coach, Inc. 2010*This post is not intended to be, a diagnosis, nor a suggestion or recommendation of treatment, nor a suggestion or recommendation of any procedure or product. To obtain a diagnosis and or treatment for yourself or your dog seek a qualified physician or veterinarian.