Shin Splints and Running on Slanted Roads

Research has found a link between shin splints and running on slanted roads. Most roads are crowned meaning the road is slightly slanted sideways on each side, the side most runners run on. Many runners typically blame shin splints on the hardness of the road, however surface hardness is not enough to cause running-related injuries, believe it or not.

How To Avoid Shin Splints When Running

Shin Splints and Running on Slanted Roads

Conventional wisdom and earlier research points to running on the slanted side of the road as a risk factor for a number of injuries, one being shin splints.

A study by O’Connor and Hamill found that runners who ran on a slanted treadmill –the slant was twice of that of the standard slant on most roads– did not generate anymore impact compared to running on a level surface.

  • This finding implies that running on a slanted road does not increase the risk of shock-related injuries such as stress fractures.
How to Avoid Shin Splints When Running
Illustration representing the slope of the treadmill that simulated a cambered road. SOURCE: O’Connor K and Hamill J. Does running on a cambered road predispose a runner to injury? J Appl Biomech, 2002, 18, 3-14.

However, the researchers discovered that running on a slanted surface increased maximum pronation velocity on the high side. Early work showed that runners with shin splints produced greater maximum pronation velocities than uninjured runners.

Expect More or Less Pronation

In the current study, running on a slanted surface also increased pronation on the high side and decreased pronation on the low side. The foot on the high side also showed less supination at contact compared to the foot on the low side.

Though increased pronation is not necessarily bad since it’s the body’s natural mechanism to reduce shock during running, the researchers speculated that the changes in pronation was an adaptation to reduce overall excursion.

Therefore, the occurrence of shin splints when running on a slanted road may be restricted to the adaptation of the slant and might not evolve into a more serious injury.

Nevertheless, it’s good to know that running on a slanted road does not increase, nor effect impact shocks between the limbs, as observed in the current study.

If you get shin splints from running on slanted roads, don’t panic, it’s just one of those pesky instances where your body is adapting to a new running condition to help you run better.

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References:

Brody, D.M. (1980). Running injuries. Clinical Symposia, 32, 2-36.

Clarke, T.E., Frederick, E.C., & Hamill, C. (1984). The study of rearfoot movement in running. In E.C.

Frederick (Ed.), Sport shoes and playing surfaces (pp. 166-189). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

O’Connor K and Hamill J. Does running on a cambered road predispose a runner to injury? J Appl Biomech, 2002, 18, 3-14.

Bretta Riches

Bretta Riches

"I believe the forefoot strike is the engine of endurance running..."

BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.
Bretta Riches

P.S. Don't forget to check out the Run Forefoot Facebook Page, it's a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I'm always happy to help!

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