Dealing with Shin Splints: The Runner’s Demon

Posted: May 3, 2011 in Injuries and Conditions
Tags: , ,

What are Shin Splints?

Shin splints plague runners like flies on picnic food. If you’re one of the runners haunted by shin splints, you already know the symptoms: pain in your lower legs, especially in the shin area. The pain can strike anywhere from your ankles to your knees, and can also cause some swelling. Shin splints usually start out by causing pain while you run, but can progress to cause pain that lasts for days after running.

Running on pavement can trigger shin splints.

Causes

Shin splints are caused by too much pressure being placed on your shinbones and surrounding tissue. Running on pavement, adding lots of miles to your workouts too quickly, having flat feet without the proper arch supports, wearing work out running shoes and overtraining can cause shin splints in runners. Shin splints are also common in basketball, soccer and tennis, sports with a lot of running, stopping and starting.

Treatment

If you continue to run with shin splints, your pain will only get worse. Here are five steps to take to get rid of shin splints and be on your way to running strong and pain-free again:

  1. Rest. Avoid running and any activity that triggers your shin pain until you are healed and can run pain-free.
  2. Ice your shins for 15 to 20 minute sessions, four to eight times a day for several days.
  3. Elevate your shins when you are resting so your affected area is higher than your heart. Use pillows to help prop your legs up.
  4. Assess your shoes. If you have worn out running shoes, that may be the culprit for your shin problems. Also, get inserts with arch supports to place in your shoes for extra cushioning for your shins. Make sure you have the right type of running shoes for your foot type.
  5. Cross train to maintain your fitness while your body heals. Try low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling or water running.
If your pain continues or worsens, see your doctor, trainer or physical therapist. You may have a stress fracture or your shin splints may have escalated to a level that self-care won’t alleviate.
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Comments
  1. lawyerval says:

    Marnie,

    I am prone to shin splints … or I used to be … turns out it my shoes all along. By chance, started following Jillian Michaels … loved the K-swiss tubes she was promoting … so I bought a pair – they were on sale, and I figured “what the hell?”

    Well, I started running in the gym with them – no shin splints. Ran a 5K in them (not at mach speed, but good for me … no shin splints …

    They are the Run 100s and are not customizable as far as colors go … on http://www.kswiss.com

    I tout them to everyone I know because I suffered for years – even needed to get “air” cleats when playing softball because running bases gave me shin splints. I’m way heavier than my playing weight and trying to get back into shape out of the pear I’ve become … I should be getting shin splints, but these shoes are the miracle I needed … turns out, I didn’t need cushioning in my heels; I ran on the balls of my feet and needed the cushioning up front.

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