Achy Achy Shins

Spring training has begun or is just about to begin for many runners.  One of the ailments I hear about most often from athletes is shin splints.  This is a common overuse injury that tends to flare up at the beginning of training, usually with runners who are just starting out or picking up their mileage rapidly.  It can also be caused by other factors such as running on harder surfaces, changes in or poor gait, and improper footwear.

If you haven’t ever experienced shin splints you are lucky.  The typical symptoms are pain and inflammation in the shin area, either medial or anterior (inside or outside).  More serious forms of shin splints can also cause a bumpy corn cob like feel. It is very important that you rule out a stress fracture before continuing with training.  The main signs to look for in a stress fracture are localized pain that you can feel to the touch and more pain in the morning which tends to ease as the day goes on.  If you are not certain whether it is a stress fracture or shin splints, it is imperative that you make an appointment with your doctor.

Once you have ruled out a stress fracture there are a few things that you can do to ease the pain and get yourself on the path to recovery:

Rest or lighten the load:  If you can take a day or two off, go for it.  If not, try easing up on your mileage and then slowly return as your pain lightens.  Remember that this is often a case of too much too fast.  So if time is on your side, ease yourself back in.

Stretch:  Focus on your calves and Achilles tendon.  Downward dog the heck out of your legs.  And do my favorite stretch where you sit on your feet!  Remember to slowly stretch, hold for 30 seconds, and never ever bounce!

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Compress Compression sleeves can be your best friend.  They aren’t cheap but if you feel like your achy legs could use some TLC this is the “hug” you have been looking for.  These bad boys give a nice light squeeze to keep out the inflammation and speed up recovery.  Skip running in them and wear them afterwards.  I have spent many a night sleeping in these and can tell a difference in the morning.

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Skip the meds go for heat:  I recommend that my athletes avoid using anti-inflammatories.  Besides the fact that they can mask pain and cause you to do further damage, research shows that they can also slow your recovery.  Instead, try eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties: bright green and red fruits and veggies.  Cherries are a real inflammation buster!

Also skip the ice and after the first day, put some heat on those shins.  Try this both before and after your runs for extra relief.

Thank you to everyone for your amazing well wishes for Rock and I yesterday as we announced our pregnancy.  We are over the moon excited and each and every one of you made it even more exciting!  We are truly blessed.

Happy running!

16 thoughts on “Achy Achy Shins

  1. I’m intrigued as to why you’d think that foods with anti-inflamatory benefits would be better than medicines. Is that specifically something you read somewhere? Surely, if anti-inflammation treatment is a bad thing then it applies to either source?

    • Oh no it’s not that I think the foods work better. Research shows the OTC anti inflammatories can slow the healing process and mask the pain so many athletes continue to do damage while on them. Instead I encourage athletes to try eating foods that will aid the healing process while doing other recovery methods too. I myself have used anti inflammatories for years and was told awhile ago never to use them again as they had damaged my kidneys over time.

  2. Great advice that I will be filing away and hopefully never having to use. 🙂 I’ve been extremely fortunate that shin splits have not been something I’ve had to deal with and I hope it stays that way!

    • It is always good to know but I do think that this tends to be more common in newer runners or those runners who typically do a few miles per week and then suddenly train for a half or full.

  3. Really interesting and great post 🙂 Having a bit of a niggle in my inner shin at the moment when I do any exercise whatsoever! Changed my trainers (was massively overpronating) and got told I’ve got flat feet but no one has been able to help in terms of finding any inserts to help correct this. Thinking once this has been done, it might help my shin! Do you have any advice for us flat footed folk?? 🙂

  4. Ya know, in HS, it seemed like EVERYONE had “shin splints”. I remember running around the track at practice and half the team was sitting along the fence with ice on their shins. I know they just didn’t want to practice and they used “shin splints” as an excuse.

    • Ha, that is so true. I remember those shin splints too. I have had the real deal too and it sucks as well. But I think it is something that most of us who log numerous miles year round can enjoy missing out on.

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