Shin Splints

As a coach, I have worked with beginners completing the couch to 5K plan to triathletes finishing a half ironman. I have dealt with injuries ranging from IT band syndrome to patella tendonitis to overextended ligaments. The inspiration behind this post was due in part to my friend who is training for her first ever half marathon but also is not a “runner”… YET!

My friend has been suffering from shin splints or the development of shin splints since she started her training plan. Prior to this, we went to a local running store to get her fitted for the correct running shoe. While running, I observed her running style and noticed she hits heel first. She also mentioned that she has flat feet which causes her overpronation.

Shin splints occur when you have pain in your shinbone below the knee either on the front outside part of the leg (anterior shin splints) or the inside of the leg (medial shin splints), which is caused by inflammation of the muscles, tendons and bone tissue. The medical terminology is medial tibial stress syndrome and the problem is common for runners.

Now, shin splints get flared up typically for people who begin running abruptly, change their workout regimen or do not build up their mileage gradually. In this situation, she is completely changing up her workout regimen and starting from square one.

They are also caused by:

  • Worn shoes
  • Excessive stress placed on one leg from running and typically, it is almost always the runner’s dominant one.

So how can one prevent these problems?

  • For starters getting shoes that provide good support
  • Making sure you warm up and cool down as well as getting in your stretches

However, what happens when you develop this shinbone pain and it doesn’t go away? For starters, the pain will go away on its own but your body will need time to heal.

  • Ice your shins for 20-30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for 2 to 3 days, or until the pain is gone.
  • Take anti-inflammatory painkillers, if you need them like ibuprofen or aspirin,
  • Use insoles or orthotics for your shoes. Shoe inserts — which can be custom-made or bought off the shelf can help if your arches collapse while running.

All in all, shin splints can be the bane of many runners existence because the last thing you want to do is run while experiencing this pain. So take the necessary steps first for prevention, observe your running stride and if none of those tips helps and you still develop it, visit your orthopedist.

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