Few things are more frustrating for a runner than shin splints. They’re painful, restrict your movement and training and seem difficult to treat.
What are Shin Splints?
This is a useful “catch all” term for pain in the leg below the knee. But true shin splints are when you have pain only on the inner part of the shin. Although the pain often starts intermittently, running and walking may quickly become extremely painful.
If you are getting pain in your shins in a different place or only in one, tender spot there might be something else going on so always get checked by a qualified professional.
What causes Shin Splints?
- Too much too soon or overtraining
- Bad shoes – shoes that are too worn, don’t have good shock absorption or good arch support.
- Running on sand or a poorly cambered road places lopsided strain on the foot, shin, knee, thigh, hip . . . remember your body is connected!
- Tight calf muscles and poor hip movement
- Over pronation / low arch when running – as the foot collapses it twists the shin and causes strain on one side
So what should I do to stop the pain?
- Ease back on your training schedule – you need to let the muscle inflammation calm down before you will be pain free. So only train to mild discomfort.
- Check your shoes – are they badly worn in one spot on the heel? Have they got a good arch support and good cushion in the heel? If not it’s time to invest in a pair that do!
- Get assessed – you need to be reviewed from your toes to your hips and everywhere in between while you are walking and running to understand where the issues are when you move.
- Get some treatment – myofascial and deep tissue work with some electrotherapy can reduce the inflammation and relax the muscles and tendons in the hip, thigh, calf and foot – remember they are all connected!
- Get support – kinesiotaping (or other brands!) can help support and train the muscles while you are recovering. Support the foot as well to reduce inflammation
- Review your training schedule – you might need to alter your distance, frequency or add in other exercises for a while.
- Stop them coming back – a proper pair of insoles in your running shoes will support your arch and heel and stop the foot collapsing and twisting as you run. This prevents your shin splints returning. Always get fitted by a qualified professional, something from the pharmacy won’t give you the level of support you need for high impact sports.
Ready to get rid of your shin splints? Book an appointment for a gait analysis.