How do I avoid shin splints with all the running in soccer?

Start training slowly, long before the soccer season to build up adequate strength in legs and buttock and adequate endurance.  Make sure you have good cleats (and consider buying a half size bigger to fit an arch support or orthotic in your cleat to provide better mechanical shock absorption).  Warm up and cool down well at each practice and game.  If you still get pain, see a sports medicine doctor.
Paul Winsper
Sports Medicine
Shin splints, also know as medial tibial stress syndrome, is an overuse injury thought to be caused by excessive running or training, shoes that do not provide proper support, the type of training surface used, or biomechanical factors. Corrective exercise programs aimed at improving mechanics of the lower leg and hips can help you prevent and/or recover from shin splints. Individuals with medial tibial stress syndrome complain of pain and tenderness along the medial tibia (inner shin). This pain is often worst during or after activity.  Overpronation (flattening the arch of the foot during heel strike) has been linked as a risk factor, as has excessive internal and external rotation at the hip, and lack of muscular endurance in the calf. Programs for shin splints often include a combination of flexibility and strengthening exercises to restore muscle balance and joint range of motion. For example, start with foam rolling exercises (a form of self-massage) for the calves, hamstrings, inner thighs, and hip flexors. When foam rolling, be sure to hold each tender spot for a minimum of 30 seconds. After foam rolling, static stretching for your calves, hamstrings, inner thighs and hip flexors will help your muscles relax and lengthen. Be sure to hold each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds. This will allow tight muscles enough time to relax and elongate. Strengthening of the foot and ankle musculature should also be incorporated into your program; you can use resistance bands, weights, or body weight to improve strength and also perform functional activities like hopping, lateral movements, and cutting maneuvers. Progress your recovery or prevention program by increasing the number of repetitions, speed, and directions moved over the course of several weeks. For example, after stretching try performing a single-leg balance reach followed by lateral tube walking.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.