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Why Do Marching Band Athletes Get Shin Splints? The Surprising Truth!

As marching fitness coaches, we understand how frustrating it can be for marching athletes to experience shin splints. Shin splints cause dull, tight, or sharp pain in front of or on the inside of the shin bone, usually during or after exercise. They can be caused by overuse, bad shoes, muscle imbalances, and poor biomechanics, among other things. In this blog post, we will guide you on how to prevent and treat shin splints so that you don't end up on the sideline!

One of the most common reasons for shin splints is overuse. This happens when a muscle works harder than normal and doesn't get adequate rest. Many marching athletes fall into this trap by showing up to band camp or spring training without proper athletic preparation. To avoid this, it is important to gradually increase your physical activity level over time and start training at least 8-12 weeks before the season begins.
*Above, is an example of someone who waits until the season starts to begin training. This is the perfect recipe for developing shin splints*

Poor footwear can also contribute to shin splints. Worn-out shoes with poor shock absorption and arch support can cause your body to take more shock, leading to shin splints. It is important to wear shoes with good arch support and shock-absorption to reduce the amount of shock your body has to take.

Muscle imbalance in the lower leg is another preventable cause of shin splints. When the muscle in front of the shin is weak while the muscle in the back, the calf, is tight, the lower leg has to work much harder to achieve the common roll-step technique used while marching forward. To prevent this from happening, we recommend performing tibialis raises and gastroc stretches to strengthen the tibialis anterior and address tightness in the calves.

Poor biomechanics in the leg, such as overpronation of the feet or flat feet, can also put excessive stress on the shin bone. An arch supporting orthotic can help hold your foot and ankle in a more neutral position. While this won't FIX shin splints, it can minimize your risk of developing them while training.

If you already have shin splints, resting the affected area is one of the most effective methods. Rest is work, and it is the most optimal time for the body to repair itself. This time shouldn't be spent doing absolutely nothing. Find activities you enjoy that can keep you active while allowing your shins to rest. Upper body training, core training, biking, and the elliptical are great examples. The amount of rest time needed varies from person to person. Consult with a medical professional to determine the appropriate amount of time for you.

Foam rolling can reduce tightness, decrease pain, and promote blood flow in the affected area, which can accelerate tissue healing. A drumstick can be also used to gently roll out the muscles around the shin.

In conclusion, shin splints can be a frustrating experience for marching athletes. It is important to take preventative measures such as gradually increasing physical activity, wearing appropriate footwear, addressing muscle imbalances, and improving biomechanics. If you do experience shin splints, rest and foam rolling are effective treatments for many. If you are experiencing severe pain, consult with a medical professional to receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

By taking care of your body, you can avoid sitting out on the sidelines and march strong with confidence!
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