Dreaded Shin Splints, every runner is familiar with them. The term “shin splints” is
actually a group of symptoms that can involve pain on the medial side or lateral side
of the lower leg. They don’t go away with activity and tend to get worse the more
you try to ignore it. They are terribly painful and can be agonizingly slow in healing.
The cause of the pain can range from a tight calf muscle to a stress fracture. It is
important to be properly diagnosed. This is NOT something to run through. Running
on hard surfaces, or uneven ground, running a lot up hill or down hill and flat feet or
over pronation are common culprits of shin splints. People wanting to get into shape
quickly and do to much to fast to soon often suffer from shin splints. Shin splints
need not be the end of your running. There are solutions that can get your feet back
to the pavement pain free!
Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation.
Prevention of shin splints include:
*Proper footwear—It is important to be fitted properly for running shoes, this
includes being sized properly and using inserts if necessary.
*Warming up before exercise-agilities before just walking out your door and
running will help the muscles prepare for the chore ahead.
*Massage-regular massage can help keep the muscles healthy and flexible.
*Proper coaching on running form-practicing with bad form is just bad practice.
Find a qualified coach and get the proper guidance to get you started.
*Stretching-Warming up before exercise is important, stretching after is just as
important. Five to ten minutes after a run can help you with prevention of shin
splints. Focus on all muscle groups of the legs, find a routine and stick to it.
Treatment of shin splints include:
*Rest-This means “no” running. Often athletes just slow down the running or run a
little less. Rest means just that…rest. Running can resume when you are pain free.
*Ice-Ice is best used for no longer than 20 minutes on 20 minutes off. The cycle can
be repeated several times throughout the day. Ice in the early stages helps with pain
*Heat-Heat can be used after the initial stage to relax the muscles and to help with a
*Stretching-Since tight calf muscles are often associated with shin splints, stretching
is often part of the treatment.
Rehabilitation of shin splints include:
*Coming back to activity slowly-Start with walk/jog and increase gradually to short
runs. Pain should be your guide. Only you know how it feels, no exact formula works
*Massage-As in prevention and treatment, massage helps stretch, elongate and bring
fresh oxygenated blood to the tissue. Find a qualified Massage Therapist who is
familiar with shin splints and other common running injuries
*Stretching-as you work yourself back stretching after even the shortest of work
outs is important.
*Cross Train-Not being able to run does not mean not being able to exercise. Biking
and swimming are great alternatives for a great cardiovascular workout.