What Causes Shin Splints

Today we’re going to talk about why you keep getting shin splints and give you some tips to help prevent them. A lot of times when people start jumping rope or doing some other high intensity cardio to workout, they start to experience shin splints. They hurt and it can make you feel like quitting, especially when it happens over and over. We get it. Just understand that shin splints are something that almost everyone has to work through when they are starting a new exercise routine.
A lot of start-and-stop sports like tennis, basketball and racquetball cause shin splints. Jump rope beginners also tend to experience injuries when they’re first starting out and this is normal. To help minimize the likelihood that you’ll have injuries, a good place to start is to understand why they happen in the first place. We’ve got a whole video on how to prevent injuries when learning to jump rope and what you can do to protect against a wide variety of injuries.

Why You Keep Getting Shin Splints

For now, we’ll focus just on shin splints since that’s one of the most common injuries we hear about from you. To help you out, we’re going to help you understand why you get shin splints in the first place and what you can do to stop them from happening.

1. You’re Jumping Too High

The reason why most people get shin splints is simply because they’re impact on the ground is too high. When you’re jumping rope, you don’t want to be more than 1 or 2 inches off the ground. If you jump higher than that, you increase the impact on your feet, ankles and shins and this can cause stress that leads to shin splints.

You can tell if you’re jumping too high by jumping in front of a mirror. Key indicators of jumping higher than necessary include feeling a little out of control and the jump rope can be all over the place too. The only reason you need to jump 4 to 5 inches off the ground is if you are doing double unders. As a beginner and for just regular bounce, you should really only be 3 inches off the ground at a maximum.

2. You’re Jumping Too Frequently

If you’re a beginner, there’s no way you should be going from nothing to jumping rope 7 days a week. We even take a day of rest where we don’t have all that work. If you’re jumping rope every day, you start to get tired and miserable and by the 7th day, you just feel burnt out. With exhaustion, you start to lose proper form and that can lead to a higher incidence of injuries.

A big part of becoming comfortable with a jump rope is practice and easing into it. Start by just jumping rope 2 to 3 times per week for the first 4 to 6 weeks. Then you can gradually move up to jumping rope 5 to 6 times per week as your legs get used to it.

3. You Don’t Have The Right Gear

Like with most sports, having the right gear prevents injuries. Whether it’s thick pads for football or cleats for soccer, having the right gear will limit injuries. For jumping rope, the only gear you really need is a jump rope and supportive shoes.

We like Converse-style shoes as much as the next guy, but in reality they’re not great for jumping rope. We recommend using a supportive running shoe any time you are jumping rope. We use the Nike React Flyknit Hyperdunks when jumping rope and made a video about them that you can watch here. These are our favorite, but you can really use any athletic shoe that gives you support and feels really comfortable.

You can jump rope with just about any old rope you have lying around the house, but having a quality jump rope can help reduce injuries. Those cheap, plastic jump ropes you find in the kid’s section at Walmart are not the best tools. They’ll tangle up easier and the really thick plastic ones are just not manageable. We use the CrossRope for all of our jump rope workouts and it’s the best rope we’ve found on the market. A good rope will help you reach your goals in the fastest and most fun way possible so put some thought into picking out the right rope for you.

4. You’re Not Warming Up

Just like with most sports, you have to be warmed up to prevent injury. If you go right into jumping rope, the impact on your feet and cold leg muscles, will probably going end up giving you shin splints.

When you’re jumping rope, we recommend warming up as follows:

  • 20 jumping jacks
  • 10 air squats
  • 10 front lunges
  • 10 push-ups

We don’t really care how many you can do; the key thing here is using proper form. For the lunges and squats, make sure your coming down to a little lower than 90 degrees and don’t let your knees track out over your toes. For the pushups, keep your elbows in to avoid injuries to your rotator cuffs and shoulders. If you want a little more information on our warm-up, check out our tutorial. We’ll show you exactly how to do each one of the exercises for the warm up so you can stay injury free.

5. The Surface is Too Hard

A lot of people get shin splints from jumping rope because the surface they choose to jump on is just too hard. If you’re a beginner, we recommend using a rubber mat. You don’t have to jump rope in the gym, but you can do that if you want to use a padded floor that’s designed to protect your joints. Otherwise, just pick up a mat and you can head outside and jump rope from anywhere you want. Once you build up your muscles, you can jump rope on cement or asphalt if you want, just make sure to ease into it to avoid shin splints.

6. Leg Muscles Need More Strength

Honestly, sometimes your leg muscles and core just need more strength to avoid injuries. To combat this, we recommend balancing your jump rope training with bodyweight training as well. Calf raises and squats are great exercises to start with and you can even add in some box jumps if you want.

Avoiding Shin Splints Recap:

  • Jump 1-2 inches off the ground
  • Start jumping rope 2-3 times per week for the first 4 to 6 weeks. Then move up to 5-6 times per week.
  • Wear supportive running shoes and invest in a quality jump rope
  • Warm up every time
  • Jump rope on a soft surface or use a rubber mat
  • Build up the strength of your leg muscles by doing calf raises and squats

Do The Thing

Let’s be real. Shin splints are frustrating and hurt like hell. Now that you know what causes shin splints, you can take steps to avoid getting them. Make sure to always use proper form when jumping rope and have the right gear to avoid injuries. Warm up, jump on softer surfaces and start by jumping rope 2-3 times each week and you’ll prevent against shin splints. If you want a little extra support as a beginner jump roper, you can check out our beginner tutorials or sign up for our free 4-week challenge to get into the swing of things. Most importantly, have fun and do the thing!


497 thoughts on “What Causes Shin Splints”

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