The deal: Shin splints are a member of the overuse injury family, caused by inflammation of the muscles, tendons and tissues around the tibia (shinbone), which results in a pain along the front or side of the lower leg. Contributing factors include overstriding, excessive pronation (flat foot) or rotation (high-arched foot). If not treated, shin splints could lead to a stress fracture.
First aid: Ice the area and work on calf mobility. Use specific trigger point massage to increase blood flow (try a tennis ball), foam roll or get ART (page 84).
Prevention: Follow the 10 percent rule, only increasing run volume by 10 percent per week. Find the right shoe and replace it often—rule of thumb is 300–500 miles, depending on your weight—and don’t make any abrupt changes in terrain, such as running on trails for weeks and then switching to mile repeats on pavement. Having an expert check your running form also applies here. Hill also recommends working on flexibility of the big-toe extensors: Stand with your foot flat on the ground and lift only the big toe, or just use your hand to stretch your big toe in both directions.