Sometimes we like the idea of running more than the running itself. But, hey — it's summer, and sitting is dangerous, so let's make the decision to head out and tackle a few miles. The best thing that newbie runners can do? Start slow. Jumping into a five-mile run when you haven't laced up in over a year can lead to injury.
Research published in PLoS One found that of the 933 novice runners, 254 were injured their first year. (But, that also means that roughly 73% of new runners did manage to maintain happy feet — and legs, and hips.) The researchers found that 25% of the injuries happened within the first 23 miles, and among the sidelined runners, shin splints were the most reported complaint. Patellofemoral pain (runner’s knee) and meniscus injury were the next most common issues.
One of the main causes of medial tibial stress syndrome (the proper name for shin splints) is doing too much, too soon. And, being injured is the biggest running-motivation buzzkill. In fact, among the 203 participants that kept track of post-injury motivation, 22 reported that they were less or not at all motivated to start back up again. So, even when you’re mentally ready to turn your 5K, 10K, or half-marathon dreams into a reality, being overly ambitious with your mileage can leave you spending more time on your couch than speeding to the finish line.
It’s important to note that the study participants — regardless of their foot type or running gait — had to wear a neutral running shoe. Choosing the right shoes, however, is one of the best ways to help prevent shin splints, so spend time getting properly fitted. Check out the video below (from Dr. Jordan Metzl and Competitor) about the different types of shin splints and what to do if you experience pain. Then, lace up and get started — with just a short, little run.