Dealing with Shin Splints
Oh no! Shin splints again? What to do, what to do? Don’t let the term shin splints scare you into not running. Yes, they hurt and they can lead to worse issues with your shins [stress fractures, but only if you don’t treat the shin pains], but you can totally run with sore shins without making them worse.
One of the best things I can suggest you do is get running shoes that are fitted for you. Do this at your local running store.
What are shin splints?
Shin splints are, according to the Mayo Clinic, pain on the tibia. That’s great to know, but there are a few reasons why we might have sore shins.
Why am I having shin pain?
Let’s look at a few of them and why you might be having those pains.
- You’re in the wrong type of shoe. If you over-pronate and you’re wearing neutral shoes, you’ll find that rotation in your shin bone during each stride. Excess rotation can cause extra stress and put pressure and pain on that shin bone.
- You ramped up your mileage too quickly. This happens all too often. We get ambitious and we run more than we should too soon.
- You have a muscle imbalance somewhere. This could be, for example, one calf that is working harder than the other, or an entire muscle group not working at all (ie: the glute). When a muscle isn’t working as it is supposed to, other muscles take over the work. They get tired, as you would suspect, and this overworking causes the surrounding areas to break down.
What can I do about minimizing shin pain?
What you can do if you think you are getting shin splints:
- Get new shoes (from a specialty running store)
- Get a gait analysis done for your running form
- Ice massage your shins
- Warm up your body (lower legs) before you go for a run
- Massage your calves after your run
- Focus on strengthening your calves and surrounding muscles
- Take time off or cross train if the pain persists
What to do if you already have shin splints?
If you already have shin splints, you’ll want to do everything you can to get rid of the pain. If left untreated, shin splints can become stress reactions or stress fractures. Luckily, Patty of Reach-YourPeak.com gave some great tips to overcome shin splints:
- Use a foam roller before you run – not just your calves, but your glutes, IT band, Achilles, etc. After that, do a dynamic ankle mobility warm up.
- Go to a physical therapist to get PT. It may also help to find someone who can do soft tissue massage on all major muscle groups.
- If you can’t go to PT, self-massage and foam roll after every run. Use a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, and foam roller. Use a wooden rod/dowel rod on your calves.
- Work on your glutes. Loosen them (using massage techniques) and then strengthen them.
- Purchase custom orthotics from a running-specific ortho doctor. *Price and availability are a big factor here.
Now that you know what shin splints are, what are you going to do to prevent shin splints in the future? Leave a comment and let’s talk about our shins!
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