Shin Splints

So, I’m still dealing with shin splints. I don’t normally feel them when I’m not running (though yesterday morning I did feel a little pressure) and they are not debilitating when I am running, but there’s enough pain there to have me concerned. I’m only in week 2 of half marathon training and I intend to put a lot more miles on these shins, so I need them to be full strength.

I’ve been scouring the internet for the best ways to deal with shin splints, and this is what I’ve found:

  • R.I.C.E – Rest, ice, compression, elevation

I last ran on Tuesday and though I am scheduled to run 3 miles today, I am making the choice to skip it. This is a pretty big deal for me as I don’t think I’ve ever skipped a training run. I figure the extra day of rest far outweighs any benefit gained from running only three miles. My breathing/endurance on my runs has been really good; it’s my legs that are causing me problems, so I think this is the right choice. I could possibly squeeze those three miles in tomorrow or Saturday but I kind of like the idea of four consecutive days off.

I’ve been icing my shins every night, and I do think it helps.

With all the icing I’ve been doing I’ve forgotten about my compression socks but I remembered today and decided to wear them to work. Ice at night; compression during the day.

I haven’t done much with regards to elevation, especially since I sit at a desk all day, but a couple of times I propped a leg up on the couch while watching tv, so that’s something.  🙂

  • Exercises

There are lots of people on the internet with opinions about exercises that can be done to improve shin splints.

Calf stretching against a wall – Lunge forward and put your hands flat against a wall to stretch the calf muscle of your back leg.

Trace the alphabet on the floor with your toe

Stand on your heels while raising your toes – Hold for 10 seconds. Alternatively, you can try walking on your heels only, though this is tricky.

Flex and point toes while standing on stairs – You’re balancing on your heels with your toes over the edge of the stairs. The flexing and pointing should be done for 30 seconds then move your legs to a 45 degree squatting position and repeat. Do several sets. I’m most excited to try this one, but I haven’t had a chance yet.

  • Foam Rolling

I just purchased a foam roller a couple of weeks ago after noticing how many runners use them. The idea is to balance yourself on the foam cylinder and roll the places on your body that feel tight. The more weight you balance on the roller, the more pressure you apply. I’ve been focusing on the calves and shins.  I was hesitant to roll directly on the painful areas of my legs but after my experience with the chiropractor in which he pressed directly into those spots, hard, I realized I can do the same thing myself. I’m not as tough as he was but I figure every little bit helps.

Meanwhile, as I continue to try every shin splint remedy I can find, I am also trying to pinpoint how this happened to me so I can avoid it in the future. This is what I’ve come up with.

  • Running in old shoes – Up until a couple of weeks ago I was running in my Asics that had 500+ miles on them.  I was getting weird pain in my arches in addition to shin issues but I procrastinated quite a while before replacing those shoes with my new Brooks shoes that I love. So it’s entirely possible I’m still recovering from running on bad shoes.
  • Running without my orthotics  – When I started training for my first half marathon in 2011 I began having pain on the top of my left foot, near the base of my pinky toe. I saw a podiatrist who said I have slightly flat feet and fitted me for orthotics which I wore on every run after that. That is, until I got my new shoes. The person at the running store who helped me thought I wouldn’t need the orthotics with the extra support I’d get from the shoes. She may still be right, but until I get rid of this shin pain I’m going back to how I ran before, with orthotics.
  • Running on consecutive days – I prefer a schedule that allows me to rest the day after running, but my training plan requires four runs a week and because of that I have to schedule runs where I can fit them in. That has resulted in running three days in a row each week – Sunday through Tuesday. I think this schedule will ultimately be fine, and I’ve done it previously, but I don’t think I am used to it right now.
  • Increasing volume of miles too soon – I’ve kept a good base of miles all year, in the 10-15 miles per week range, but recently I’ve upped that to 15-20 per week. I was listening to my body and not doing more than felt comfortable at the time, but it’s possible I’m suffering after the fact.
  • Running too fast – Again, I am trying to listen to my body, but running 9 minute miles on a regular basis when I used to only run 9:30-10 miles may not be doing me any favors, especially when combined with the volume of miles. I’m struggling with this one because even when I make an effort to run “slow” for me I am still under 10 minute miles and I really don’t want to lose my new pace. So I’m leaning toward reducing my total mileage, at least right now, rather than sacrificing pace.

It’s likely all these changes at once are what caused the problem. I have faith that everything I am trying will remedy the problem, especially the rest.  I am listening to my body and I an envisioning stronger legs that will propel me on my next run, six miles on Sunday.  Until then, rest and healing!


5 responses to “Shin Splints

  1. Another thing you might consider is the type of surface you are running on. I primarily run on concrete and that is definitely not the best for your body! Also, I went from asics (which I loved) to Brooks. I think I’m going to switch back to my original shoe type when I can afford a new pair as a precaution. I’ve never had shin problems then 100 miles in to my new shoes I’m injured. Definitely take some rest days and good luck! 🙂

    • It’s really interesting that you also went from Asics to Brooks and had problems. I thought Brooks were supposed to be wonderful for runners. If I can’t shake the shin splints after all this rest I’ll consider that as something to switch up. Maybe I can find an Asics sale and use them as a second pair.
      I run outside on sidewalks most of the time so I haven’t changed anything in that area that I think would cause a problem but it could be the increase in miles on that type of hard surface.

      • Yeah that struck me too! Brooks is a great brand, but we all have different feet and gait types. Asiscs is known for a specific feel and cushion, so maybe that’s just what my feet need.

        I’ve been advised to vary the surfaces I run on because constant “pounding the pavement” isn’t great for your legs. So, I”m going to be running more on trails, a track or even the treadmill (as much as I hate running indoors) to see if these more gentle surfaces help to alleviate some of the pain!

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