Treadmill Shin Splints

Shin splints are one of the many common running injuries but some people say they only get shin splints when they run on the treadmill. We like to call these treadmill shin splints.

A post on Runner’s World is what peaked the topic of this post. One user said:

I always and only get shin splits on a treadmill. What am I doing wrong? Is it my form is off? I do not run at a faster pace if anything I run slower.

If you have similar questions, read on and I will do my best to answer them.

How do treadmill shin splints happen?

Ever wonder why you only get shin splints when you run on a treadmill? What’s so different about a treadmill versus running outside?

A lot, actually.

Here’s an article that does a good job at explaining why you are more likely to get shin splints on a treadmill than outdoors running on the sidewalk. It says:

“When we’re airborne in midstride, neither foot is in contact with the treadmill—no problem there. But as soon as the leading foot makes contact, the backward motion of the treadmill grabs the heel and—more quickly than road running—draws the forefoot onto the belt. This accelerated motion actually mimics running slightly downhill. It requires a higher level of anterior shin muscle strength, which is why many people get shin splints on treadmills.”> (emphasis added by me.)

So the basic principles of how a treadmill functions contributes to the shin splints.

How to avoid treadmill shin splints

If you read the thread on Runner’s World that is linked to above, the following was suggested:

Form, footware, type of treadmill, and maintenace of treadmill are all things to consider. If the belt of the treadmill is constantly sticking to the deck, or if it’s took loose and thus halting with each step, it can cause some issues for the user.

There are 5 things to keep in mind when trying to avoid treadmill shin splints:

  1. Proper running form

    Make sure you understand how to run correctly to avoid injury both on and off the treadmill. The treadmill alone is not the only cause of treadmill shin splints. You may need to work on your form a bit.

  2. Footware

    This goes right along with number 1. Part of good running form incorporates wearing proper running shoes. I recommend Zero Drop running shoes but there are plenty of great running shoes available. Check out some shoe reviews to help you get started in the right direction.

  3. Type of Treadmill

    Treadmill cushioning is a huge part of that tension that is put into your heel and up through your shins when you run on a treadmill. A well cushioned treadmill will minimize the occurrence of shin splints.

  4. Treadmill Maintenance

    Treadmill belts tend to slip and act funny after a while. Make sure you keep the belt well lubricated and maintained. Read up on the lubrication facts here.

  5. Varied Running Environments

    By this I mean you need to take your workouts outside every once in a while. Running on different types of terrain will work in your shins and you’ll notice better performance on the treadmill.

Treadmill shin splints can put a damper on your indoor workouts so be sure to use the above tips to keep you and your shins in tip-top shape.

About The Author

Treadmill Review Guru is an expert on all things related to treadmills and running. He is a former cross country runner and soccer player and hopes to soon be able to run a marathon. He loves training on his treadmill whenever he gets the chance. Check out his recommendations and see what he thinks are the best treadmills.