Shin splints!!! RUN!!!! Yes it is words that runners hate to hear. I get it, as when I first started to run, again, shin splints were there loud and proud! But I over came them and have never had them reappear(knock on wood).
First off, What are shin splints? It is pain along the tibia, or shin bone. It is the large bone on the front of your lower leg. You can have anterior shin splints, which are towards the top outside of the tibia. Or you can have posterior shin splints which is pain along the inner bottom of your shin bone.
What can cause shin splints?
Believe it or not, it’s fairly easy to get them. It is just repeated stress on the shin bone and the connective tissue that connects the muscle and bone. The most common for runners, are actually beginners. Since you are just starting to run, you are putting more stress on the bone and muscles than they are used to.
Also along with just starting to run, if you do too much too soon. You need to give your body time to recover. Running on uneven surfaces, or hills has also been a cause of shin splints.
Another cause of this annoying pain, is heel striking. Having a very prominent heel to ground, rather than mid foot to ground while running. The most common way of running I see, is heel striking. It is recommended you try to work on your striking so your foot lands flat. It minimizes injuries, improves paces, strength, and stride. Apparently, this is a major cause of shin splints, but I’m not too sure.
From experience, I have been a heel striker in the past. With lots of work and training, I am a mid foot striker now, until I get tired, then I become a heel striker. But, I know many who are severe heel strikers and never have issues with shin pain, so that’s why I say that this as one of the causes is unclear to me.
A BIG problem that can cause shin splints, are wearing improper shoes!! It’s all in the shoes, believe me. Don’t go for the pretty popular ones, find the RIGHT shoes for YOU!
Think you have shin splints? How to tell if you have shin splints or not is pretty easy. The symptoms of shin splints are clear, either it hurts or it doesn’t.
Symptoms: If are area along your shin bone hurts to the touch or feels tender. A quick way to tell is if you run your fingers along your shin bone and it hurts at a specific spot. If your actual bone hurts, then it could be a stress fracture.
Another symptom is where the pain happens when you are running and it doesn’t subside, it only gets worse. It can also only happen when you are running, but if it goes untreated, it will be to a point where it will always hurt, running or not.
Flexing your foot is tough to do if you have shin splints. Pointing your foot away, and then bringing your foot back towards your shins, shouldn’t be a problem. And in severe cases, you wouldn’t even be able to put ANY pressure on your foot.
The best way to treat shin splints are to REST and R.I.C.E!!! REST your legs, ICE your area of pain for at least 20 minutes,COMPRESS the area as well with a bandage while you ice, ELEVATE your leg while you are icing.
This is the most effective way, in my opinion to recover from shin splints. I would do this after every run and it definitely helped the pain.
Another way to treat your shin splints is to use KT Tape. I’ve used several different ways to apply the tape, but the most effective has been the easiest app. It’s just one strip along the shin bone. Half on the muscle, half on the bone:
Which leads me into prevention. You can wear this KT Tape along your shin bone to not only treat, and reduce your shin pain, but also to prevent it. Make sure the area is clean, shaved, and apply the tape with 5-10% tension. Let it stick for at least an hour to make sure it sticks well.
Some runners wear compression socks or calf sleeves, but honestly in my opinion, it does the opposite. It is constricting blood flow, and preventing it from reaching the muscle to repair it. I have used compression socks, and they only worsened my shin splints. But to each their own. Some swear my compression socks, as I swear on KT Tape.
Another way to prevent shin splints is to strengthen them and stretch them! Luckily some of the stretches work as strengthening so you can do both at the same time. I stretch every single day. My legs, my back, my arms, and my ribs. It has certainly kept my pain and injuries to a minimum(excluding my Scoliosis obviously)
I recommend you don’t run if you are having pain. Immediately stop if you have pain while you run! Stay off your feet until you have no discomfort. And if rest and icing isn’t calming the pain, you should definitely go see your Doctor. He can probably do an x-ray to double check for a stress fracture or if other more aggressive precautions need to be taken.
-the Scoliosis runner