Dealing With Shin Splints

Fixing Shin Splints?

Are you a runner or trail runner? Have you ever had to deal with shin splints and found a successful way to deal with them? If so, I need your help.

I recently decided to get back into running with the goal of doing a 5K run in the coming months, then gradually moving up to longer runs and maybe even a Tri. It’s a lofty goal, for me at least, and I’m only just getting started. I’m deliberately taking it easy using the couch to 5K program to ease myself back into running longer distances over several weeks because of my problem with shin splints. Shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) occurs during physical activity and results from too much force on the shinbone and connective tissues attaching muscles to it. I’ve also had several surgical procedures on my Achilles tendon and have totally flat feet – so I have lots going on to deal with.

Progress So Far
I’m currently in week two of the nine-week couch to 5K program and had the second of my week-two runs this morning. I don’t know whether it was because this run was my first early morning run, until now I’ve only run in the evenings, but about half way through my 3.2-mile run I hit a wall with the shin splint pain in my left leg. I couldn’t continue the short run sprints and had to finish the distance walking. I was really disappointed.

I’ve read all sorts of articles about how to deal with the problem of shin splints, but have not found anything that has worked for me. I recently went to a Run for Your Life store and got properly fitted for good running shoes. I made a point of telling the person helping me that I have flat feet, very flat feet. I ended up with a very comfortable pair of moderately cushioned Ascis running shoes (shown above).  But even after getting fitted and using my new “better” shoes for two weeks, the shin splints are not subsiding as fast as I had hoped. Which leads me to how you can help.

What do you recommend that I try to in order to deal with my shin splints problem? At this point I’m willing to think a little more radically and I’m even considering transitioning to a barefoot/minimal running shoe to see if that helps. Damien at Toe Salad suggested I try a minimal shoe and even sent me a link to a great post about how to make the transition – but I’m not entirely convinced, yet. I also just spent $$ on a new pair of running shoes.

At the moment I’m only running very short distances so it is probably the perfect time to make a change. What experience have you had with minimal running shoes or dealing with shin splints? If you have any advice I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

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  • Chris Marks

    When I first started running I used to get Shin Splints a lot even in short runs like 3-5k. Now that I’m running more like 5-7 miles and training for a marathon I actually almost never get them.

    First let them heal, and fully. Trying to push through the pain only makes it worse and will probably eventually lead to other injuries as you make slight adjustments in how you land.
    Secondly, get off concrete sidewalks. Concrete is a really hard surface to run on because it has very little give. Asphalt is better because it has a little more cushion but it’s best to run on a dirt trail. I was very hesitant to make the switch but it’s made a world of a difference.

    Finally, stretch before you run. Probably the biggest factor in alleviating my shin splints was about a 5 minute stretch, particularly stretching out my calves with lunges (you’ll feel them stretch out if you’re doing it right)

    Additionally you can try spacing out your runs a bit more. If you’re running three days consecutively your body may not have a chance to heal fully. Even though your muscles may not feel sore the joints might still need to recover. If you ran the previous night, then first thing in the morning the lack of heal-time might be what triggered your shin splints.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Thanks Chris. I have been running on the sidewalks and asphalt so that probably isn’t helping, I’ll try to see how a softer surface works for me.

      I do stretch fairly well but could probably do with some specific stretches to target my lower legs. I get shin splints in the front of my shin, so I might need to focus on a stretch for that. Not sure what, but I know how to Google.

      I don’t run on consecutive days at all. I have at least one full day between runs and this morning was the first time I have run since Tuesday evening.

      If I need to let my shins heal, how long would that take and how do I know when they’re good? Just when the pain has subsided? I’d hate to lose the mental momentum I’ve gained by stopping now :(

      Great advice though. I’ll let you know how it goes – fingers crossed.

      • Chris Marks

        As a hiker and backpacker I was always fond of Advil (ibuprofen anyway). When I turned into a runner it became more of a torrid love affair especially as I was first starting out and building strength. As soon as you get home and feel any kind of pain take some to reduce the inflammation.

        My advice (and I should mention here that I have absolutely no medical background and that I can only off what works for me) would be to rest 3 days to a week once you get shin splints. At least that’s how long it usually took me to recover. Every time I went out for a “well, it does not feel great, but I could probably just deal with it”-run I ended up making things worse and extending the injury. After doing this a few times in a row without letting it heal it blossomed into a knee injury.
        Regarding stretching, getting the calves nice and limber before running seems to take a lot of the pressure off the shins, really work em out. 5 minutes at least before and after your run even if it’s short.

  • http://www.outsideways.com/ Damien @ Outsideways

    Brian, if you pose the question in the Toe Salad forum, I can have one of my medical experts (Mark Cucuzella) weigh in as well.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Doh! I should have thought of that. That’s a great idea! Thanks.

  • Stephen McGuire

    For me I used to get them real bad when playing football.  What worked for me was to lightly tape around the foot supporting the underside of the foot. Loop around your foot from an inch below the ankle to behind the knuckles.  Helped immensely and it was a cheap easy fix.

    As they say though YMMV

    -Stephen

  • http://www.appalachiaandbeyond.com Tim

    Brian,

    I too have recently got back into the running game again, and I’ve dealt with shin splints before. I have to concur with what most people have said here already. As for stretching etc. the best thing before a run is to warm up first with a 5 minute period of walking before stretching. One stretch that really helps with the shins, I calll them Shin Splinchers, is to put your hands up on a wall and stand with your feet about a 1′ to 1 1/2′ feet away from the wall. Kind of like you are going to do a wall push-up. Then bend at the knees, keeping your heels on the ground. You should feel the stretch in your shins. Hold for at least 30 seconds.

    As for treatment, ibuprofen does well for inflammation, and the good ol’ RICE method. (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate). Icy Hot or something other ointment of the type is good to rub on the shin area and then wrap with an ace bandage to keep the heat in. I had an old track coach do something similar to me in high school when I had shin splints. It was atomic balm and wrapped with diapers. Go figure, a week later I was running pain free.

    Tim

  • Nate

    I used to get shin splits a lot, and occasionally still do.  When ever I start to hurt I do isometric calf exercises.  Basically while watching TV I’ll put both feet on a foot stool and alternate between dorsal flexion and plantar flexion, holding each position for 5 seconds or so. I’ll do this for an hour or so. I’m not sure why it helps but I went from always having pain to hardly ever (like years) between episodes.  Ice and vitamin I (Ibuprofen) also help the immediate discomfort. Happy trails.

  • Mike

    Brian, it looks like you’re going through the same thing I did.  I also used the same shoes in the photo – Asics Gel Nimbus.  I switched to minimalist shoes and my shin splints have subsided.  On the road, I use Terra Plana Vivo Barefoot shoes and on the trail I have been using the Merrell Trail Glove.  The Trail Glove has a very nice snug fit while the Terra Plana shoes I have are a little looser in the toe box for the same size.  Things are not perfect but I can tell you that I have far less pain with the minimalist shoes than with regular shoes.  Specifically, I have little to no shin pain and no knee pain.  I am dealing with a little pain on the bottom outside of my left foot and that’s due to the way my ankles tend to “lock in” according to a podiatrist I consulted.  If you make the transition, do it slowly.  The first day you run too far in minimalist shoes, your calf muscles will let you know loud and clear.

    I am not a big mileage runner – only 10-15 miles per week; I do it for fun and fitness – and my kids run track so it’s a great opportunity to coach and be out there with them.

  • Joe

    Patellofemoral syndrome (aka runners knee), shin splints, achilles tendonitis, you name it, running accentuates it. 

    I stopped running for this reason and after my orthopedic surgeon advised me not to. The impact of running takes its toll on your hips, knees, and ankles and over time will limit my ability to go backpacking when I’m older. He recommended bicycling, swimming, and walking.I’m sorry if I sound negative towards running, but I am. I enjoy backpacking, but that in itself takes a toll on the body. Adding a high impact activity like running doesn’t seem like a good idea. These are my own observations and opinions. I am not a doctor.

  • http://pig-monkey.com Pig Monkey

    I’ve never had shin splints, so I can’t comment specifically on that. But I am a fan of minimalist running. The great thing about it is that you don’t have to drop a lot money on footwear. You could easily spend $100 on some top of the line minimalist running shoes — and if you really get into it you may want to — but to start out, a pair of cheap disposable aquasocks will work fine. I started the transition in an old pair of Teva sandals I had lying around.

  • Oli F

    I used to cycle for impact free CV exercise due to similar problems. Then a month ago a car wiped me out and left me for dead in the road. My various broken bones are gradually healing (my arm and wrist being the worst) and not being able to face going back to cycling I’m now looking at jogging/running again.

    I’ll be reading your comments and advice with interest in relation to shin splint now!

  • Nikki

    I have flat feet too. I went to the podiatrist and got custom orthotics. I put the orthotics inside my running shoes, which are already designed for control. It took a few weeks getting used to, but they’ve really helped me a lot. I haven’t had shin splints in a while.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Nikki, I very nearly went that route too, so I’m glad to hear that they worked out for you. I’m going to give some minimal running shoe a try to see if that helps.

      • gwyn

        Have any of you ever thought of acupuncture? I had shin splints all my life and just lived with it, played varsity basketball and got taped from ankle to knee for games. Eventually couldn’t walk down the street without stopping at a lamppost in pain. Got orthotics and massage therapy. Talk about pain! Several years later, I still had shin splints. Then I had acupuncture. Wonderful! Haven’t had shin splints since. Simple and cheaper than orthotics.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1847169238 Ken Jones

    This is based on my experience.  YMMV as no two people are the same.  I’m apologize in advanced for being so long.

    Many years ago I got pretty heavy.  I topped out at around 250.  I wasn’t active.  I got diagnosed with diabetes, fatty liver, and sleep apnea.  I started walking simply so I could work on the “calories spent” end of the weight loss formula.  I had bad shin pain.  I got fitted with a good pair of walking/running shoe.  That helped a lot.  My feet fit Brooks and Nike best.  All of my running shoes are Brooks, BTW.  No manufacturer makes shoes that fit everyone.  You’ll have to try on a lot of manufacturers to find your best fit.

    A few years later I’m hovering around 180 and get interested in adventure racing.  I need to be able to run.

    Now, I’ve never been a runner.  I always came in last in the mandatory 600 yard dash as a kid.  (Yes, I’m dating myself.)  During bootcamp it was all I could do to not fail any running test.  I was in pain and finished on willpower alone.

    I’ve also had bad knees from improper weight lifting when younger.

    However, when I took up running three things helped me.  A flex deck tread mill, Vibram Five Finger shoes, and Googling “Proper Running Form.”

    I think the minimalist running craze boils down to forcing folks to “run properly.”  That is, stop heel striking and mid-foot strike.

    I tried running shoeless on the tread mill at first, but you don’t realize how much heat is generated by the mill’s belt.  You need some sort of protection on the sole of your feet without giving ANY support.

    The pain in your heels with an uncushioned heel strike is a good motivator to run on your toes.  That’s what it felt like to me at first.

    I ran on the tread mill in Vibrams for only a few weeks before going outside.  The toughest part is I get bored easy.  I had to concentrate of proper form.  It’s not just a mid-foot strike, but standing upright, proper arm carriage and swing, where in relation to your center of gravity you do strike, etc. etc.   It took a lot of concentration at first to run with proper form.  I still can’t listen to an audiobook while running like I can walking or mountain biking.  I have to have a good running music with a clear beat.  ( Like around 170bpm. http://www.djsteveboy.com/podrunner.html is a good place to get decent music.)

    Now, I have no pain from running.  Nothing in the shins, knees, feet, nothing.

    I used to take Naprozen for joint pain, but instead I now simply listen to my body and adjust.  Only need pain killers for when I get hard-headed and over-train.  My doctor says I can take Naprozen as much as I like as long as I’m not having stomach issues, but I don’t want to have to rely on pain killers.  Besides, one study says NSAIDs reduce your body’s uptake of protein for recovery.  Don’t know how true that is or not, just saying.

    I’m 49 years old.  I’m just now learning just about everything in life has a “proper” way of doing it.  Running is certainly one.  I though that as long as I went fast I was running fine.  Running, yes.  Fine, no.

    I’m a few months shy of a half century old and in better shape now than most of my adult life.  I’m off all medications except for one heart maintenance medication–“just in case” the doc says.  I’m on day two of a recovery from over-training and last night I had a dream where I ran everywhere I went.  One thing I noticed was I had proper form and it was effortless.  That’s the first time that I remember ever dreaming about running where nothing scarey was chasing me.

    Shhh…  Don’t let my wife.  I think I’m becoming a runner.  It’s still tough, don’t get me wrong, but I’m getting there and I’m don’t dread putting on those shoes and getting out there.

    Hope a little bit of this helps. 

  • http://aaronoutfitted.blogspot.com/ Aarondietzen

    I believe that the best way to deal with this problem is by stretching first.  Lift one foot off of the ground and hold it in front of you (about a foot off the floor or so).  Point you toe down as far as you can and hold it for a four count, then point your toe back as far as possible for another four count.  Do thins about ten times per foot.  Then hold a foot up and rotate your foot in bog clockwise circles.  Big enough so that you feel the stretch in your lower leg.  Do ten clockwise and ten counter clockwise per leg.  Doing this should help cut down on shin splints.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Conventional wisdom says that stretching is the way to go. I’ve stretched before and after exercise and especially karate and jiu-jitsu for years. However, modern science seems to suggest that stretching is actually not as necessary as we once thought, for some activities, and may even cause damage. I’m no expert by any means, but I’m very interested in readig up on this topic and learning more about the new developments in sport science.

      I’ve found some great discussions on this and more at http://www.toesalad.com/

  • http://www.newenglandoutside.com Grant

    Brian,

    Shin splints are one of my greatest running fear’s and I have developed a few simple ways to deal with them. My running career has included a full marathon, plenty off 10Ks and a lot of trail running. As far as I am concerned, the battle against shin splints can be broken into 3 categories:

    Stride

    Are your feet making a loud slapping sound with each step? If so, this is inviting shin splints. I have found that a gentle heel strike or a mid foot strike lessen the impact on my shins.

    Shoes

    It looks like you got good shoes, nice! Have you tried Superfeet? These insoles add an amazing amount of comfort, support and foot alignment.

    Calf Strength

    I think this is the best way that you can win the war on shin splints. I have found that strong calves are a great way to ward off shin splints. Just doing a few sets of calf raises on the stairs will make a noticeable difference.

    -Grant

  • Jude Bland

    If you’re getting shin splints then it sounds like you need custom-made orthotic supports.  Had same problem but it was  sorted by Podiatrist who took cast of my feet and then made the supports. Prolonged use of inappropriate footbeds, the sort you find in most footwear these days, can cause the problem.  Most people would actually be better off not using or removing footbeds unless they are custom-made.

  • avid runner

    I know this post is from months back, but I have dealt with shin splints for many years and have successfully been able to manage them. My athletic trainers did this all through college and now I use this method on my own.
    1- Use athletic tape (I use 1″ cloth athletic tape) to tape the center of the arch of your foot – even if you have flat feet. It will feel a little tight when you stand, but should loosen up when you start moving – it should not be so tight that the circulation is cut off. (shave hair on the top of your foot or removing the tape will hurt)
    2- stretch before you start (1-3 minutes).
    3- warm up – lie on your back and put your legs up to the ceiling. flex and point your toes 20 times fast. draw circles in 10 times fast. roll out 10 times fast (2 minutes).
    4- stretch again (1-3 minutes).
    5- Now you can go for your run.
    6- Stretch when you finish.
    7- Ice massage (5 minutes). Take a piece of ice and keep it moving in a circular motion across the shin area – up and down the front of the leg (DO NOT HOLD THE ICE IN ONE PLACE) I get the little dixie cups and fill them 1/2 way with water then just peel away the top of the cup to get to the ice.
    8- Remove the tape. use scissors to cut the tape along the bottom of your foot then peel it off. If any part sticks get a little Vasoline and slide it along the edge of the tape as you remove it.
    Good Luck!

  • avid runner

    I know this post is from months back, but I have dealt with shin splints for many years and have successfully been able to manage them. My athletic trainers did this all through college and now I use this method on my own.
    1- Use athletic tape (I use 1″ cloth athletic tape) to tape the center of the arch of your foot – even if you have flat feet. It will feel a little tight when you stand, but should loosen up when you start moving – it should not be so tight that the circulation is cut off. (shave hair on the top of your foot or removing the tape will hurt)
    2- stretch before you start (1-3 minutes).
    3- warm up – lie on your back and put your legs up to the ceiling. flex and point your toes 20 times fast. draw circles in 10 times fast. roll out 10 times fast (2 minutes).
    4- stretch again (1-3 minutes).
    5- Now you can go for your run.
    6- Stretch when you finish.
    7- Ice massage (5 minutes). Take a piece of ice and keep it moving in a circular motion across the shin area – up and down the front of the leg (DO NOT HOLD THE ICE IN ONE PLACE) I get the little dixie cups and fill them 1/2 way with water then just peel away the top of the cup to get to the ice.
    8- Remove the tape. use scissors to cut the tape along the bottom of your foot then peel it off. If any part sticks get a little Vasoline and slide it along the edge of the tape as you remove it.
    Good Luck!

  • rcMike

    Hi Avid Runner-
    Thanks for the tips.  It sounds like you have had success with managing shin splints.  My reasoning for completely changing shoes was to prevent them from happening in the first place.  I am now going on 8 months without any shin pain whatsoever.  In June, my daughter who runs track and xc for her high school team also switched shoes because she had shin splints all of last season.  She runs 40-60 miles per week and also has been quite happy with the change.

    Do you have a routine for regularly stretching tight calf muscles and achilles tendons?

    Thanks!

  • rcMike

    Hi Avid Runner-
    Thanks for the tips.  It sounds like you have had success with managing shin splints.  My reasoning for completely changing shoes was to prevent them from happening in the first place.  I am now going on 8 months without any shin pain whatsoever.  In June, my daughter who runs track and xc for her high school team also switched shoes because she had shin splints all of last season.  She runs 40-60 miles per week and also has been quite happy with the change.

    Do you have a routine for regularly stretching tight calf muscles and achilles tendons?

    Thanks!

  • http://www.appalachiaandbeyond.com/ Tim

    Brian,

    I too have recently got back into the running game again, and I’ve dealt with shin splints before. I have to concur with what most people have said here already. As for stretching etc. the best thing before a run is to warm up first with a 5 minute period of walking before stretching. One stretch that really helps with the shins, I calll them Shin Splinchers, is to put your hands up on a wall and stand with your feet about a 1′ to 1 1/2′ feet away from the wall. Kind of like you are going to do a wall push-up. Then bend at the knees, keeping your heels on the ground. You should feel the stretch in your shins. Hold for at least 30 seconds.

    As for treatment, ibuprofen does well for inflammation, and the good ol’ RICE method. (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate). Icy Hot or something other ointment of the type is good to rub on the shin area and then wrap with an ace bandage to keep the heat in. I had an old track coach do something similar to me in high school when I had shin splints. It was atomic balm and wrapped with diapers. Go figure, a week later I was running pain free.

    Tim

  • Stephen McGuire

    For me I used to get them real bad when playing football.  What worked for me was to lightly tape around the foot supporting the underside of the foot. Loop around your foot from an inch below the ankle to behind the knuckles.  Helped immensely and it was a cheap easy fix.

    As they say though YMMV

    -Stephen

  • http://www.newenglandoutside.com/ Grant

    Brian,

    Shin splints are one of my greatest running fear’s and I have developed a few simple ways to deal with them. My running career has included a full marathon, plenty off 10Ks and a lot of trail running. As far as I am concerned, the battle against shin splints can be broken into 3 categories:

    Stride

    Are your feet making a loud slapping sound with each step? If so, this is inviting shin splints. I have found that a gentle heel strike or a mid foot strike lessen the impact on my shins.

    Shoes

    It looks like you got good shoes, nice! Have you tried Superfeet? These insoles add an amazing amount of comfort, support and foot alignment.

    Calf Strength

    I think this is the best way that you can win the war on shin splints. I have found that strong calves are a great way to ward off shin splints. Just doing a few sets of calf raises on the stairs will make a noticeable difference.

    -Grant

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Conventional wisdom says that stretching is the way to go. I’ve stretched before and after exercise and especially karate and jiu-jitsu for years. However, modern science seems to suggest that stretching is actually not as necessary as we once thought, for some activities, and may even cause damage. I’m no expert by any means, but I’m very interested in readig up on this topic and learning more about the new developments in sport science.

    I’ve found some great discussions on this and more at http://www.toesalad.com/

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Nikki, I very nearly went that route too, so I’m glad to hear that they worked out for you. I’m going to give some minimal running shoe a try to see if that helps.

  • http://aaronoutfitted.blogspot.com/ Aarondietzen

    I believe that the best way to deal with this problem is by stretching first.  Lift one foot off of the ground and hold it in front of you (about a foot off the floor or so).  Point you toe down as far as you can and hold it for a four count, then point your toe back as far as possible for another four count.  Do thins about ten times per foot.  Then hold a foot up and rotate your foot in bog clockwise circles.  Big enough so that you feel the stretch in your lower leg.  Do ten clockwise and ten counter clockwise per leg.  Doing this should help cut down on shin splints.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1847169238 Ken Jones

    This is based on my experience.  YMMV as no two people are the same.  I’m apologize in advanced for being so long.

    Many years ago I got pretty heavy.  I topped out at around 250.  I wasn’t active.  I got diagnosed with diabetes, fatty liver, and sleep apnea.  I started walking simply so I could work on the “calories spent” end of the weight loss formula.  I had bad shin pain.  I got fitted with a good pair of walking/running shoe.  That helped a lot.  My feet fit Brooks and Nike best.  All of my running shoes are Brooks, BTW.  No manufacturer makes shoes that fit everyone.  You’ll have to try on a lot of manufacturers to find your best fit.

    A few years later I’m hovering around 180 and get interested in adventure racing.  I need to be able to run.

    Now, I’ve never been a runner.  I always came in last in the mandatory 600 yard dash as a kid.  (Yes, I’m dating myself.)  During bootcamp it was all I could do to not fail any running test.  I was in pain and finished on willpower alone.

    I’ve also had bad knees from improper weight lifting when younger.

    However, when I took up running three things helped me.  A flex deck tread mill, Vibram Five Finger shoes, and Googling “Proper Running Form.”

    I think the minimalist running craze boils down to forcing folks to “run properly.”  That is, stop heel striking and mid-foot strike.

    I tried running shoeless on the tread mill at first, but you don’t realize how much heat is generated by the mill’s belt.  You need some sort of protection on the sole of your feet without giving ANY support.

    The pain in your heels with an uncushioned heel strike is a good motivator to run on your toes.  That’s what it felt like to me at first.

    I ran on the tread mill in Vibrams for only a few weeks before going outside.  The toughest part is I get bored easy.  I had to concentrate of proper form.  It’s not just a mid-foot strike, but standing upright, proper arm carriage and swing, where in relation to your center of gravity you do strike, etc. etc.   It took a lot of concentration at first to run with proper form.  I still can’t listen to an audiobook while running like I can walking or mountain biking.  I have to have a good running music with a clear beat.  ( Like around 170bpm. http://www.djsteveboy.com/podrunner.html is a good place to get decent music.)

    Now, I have no pain from running.  Nothing in the shins, knees, feet, nothing.

    I used to take Naprozen for joint pain, but instead I now simply listen to my body and adjust.  Only need pain killers for when I get hard-headed and over-train.  My doctor says I can take Naprozen as much as I like as long as I’m not having stomach issues, but I don’t want to have to rely on pain killers.  Besides, one study says NSAIDs reduce your body’s uptake of protein for recovery.  Don’t know how true that is or not, just saying.

    I’m 49 years old.  I’m just now learning just about everything in life has a “proper” way of doing it.  Running is certainly one.  I though that as long as I went fast I was running fine.  Running, yes.  Fine, no.

    I’m a few months shy of a half century old and in better shape now than most of my adult life.  I’m off all medications except for one heart maintenance medication–“just in case” the doc says.  I’m on day two of a recovery from over-training and last night I had a dream where I ran everywhere I went.  One thing I noticed was I had proper form and it was effortless.  That’s the first time that I remember ever dreaming about running where nothing scarey was chasing me.

    Shhh…  Don’t let my wife.  I think I’m becoming a runner.  It’s still tough, don’t get me wrong, but I’m getting there and I’m don’t dread putting on those shoes and getting out there.

    Hope a little bit of this helps. 

  • Nikki

    I have flat feet too. I went to the podiatrist and got custom orthotics. I put the orthotics inside my running shoes, which are already designed for control. It took a few weeks getting used to, but they’ve really helped me a lot. I haven’t had shin splints in a while.

  • Oli F

    I used to cycle for impact free CV exercise due to similar problems. Then a month ago a car wiped me out and left me for dead in the road. My various broken bones are gradually healing (my arm and wrist being the worst) and not being able to face going back to cycling I’m now looking at jogging/running again.

    I’ll be reading your comments and advice with interest in relation to shin splint now!

  • Joe

    Patellofemoral syndrome (aka runners knee), shin splints, achilles tendonitis, you name it, running accentuates it. 

    I stopped running for this reason and after my orthopedic surgeon advised me not to. The impact of running takes its toll on your hips, knees, and ankles and over time will limit my ability to go backpacking when I’m older. He recommended bicycling, swimming, and walking.I’m sorry if I sound negative towards running, but I am. I enjoy backpacking, but that in itself takes a toll on the body. Adding a high impact activity like running doesn’t seem like a good idea. These are my own observations and opinions. I am not a doctor.

  • Mike

    Brian, it looks like you’re going through the same thing I did.  I also used the same shoes in the photo – Asics Gel Nimbus.  I switched to minimalist shoes and my shin splints have subsided.  On the road, I use Terra Plana Vivo Barefoot shoes and on the trail I have been using the Merrell Trail Glove.  The Trail Glove has a very nice snug fit while the Terra Plana shoes I have are a little looser in the toe box for the same size.  Things are not perfect but I can tell you that I have far less pain with the minimalist shoes than with regular shoes.  Specifically, I have little to no shin pain and no knee pain.  I am dealing with a little pain on the bottom outside of my left foot and that’s due to the way my ankles tend to “lock in” according to a podiatrist I consulted.  If you make the transition, do it slowly.  The first day you run too far in minimalist shoes, your calf muscles will let you know loud and clear.

    I am not a big mileage runner – only 10-15 miles per week; I do it for fun and fitness – and my kids run track so it’s a great opportunity to coach and be out there with them.

  • Nate

    I used to get shin splits a lot, and occasionally still do.  When ever I start to hurt I do isometric calf exercises.  Basically while watching TV I’ll put both feet on a foot stool and alternate between dorsal flexion and plantar flexion, holding each position for 5 seconds or so. I’ll do this for an hour or so. I’m not sure why it helps but I went from always having pain to hardly ever (like years) between episodes.  Ice and vitamin I (Ibuprofen) also help the immediate discomfort. Happy trails.

  • Chris Marks

    As a hiker and backpacker I was always fond of Advil (ibuprofen anyway). When I turned into a runner it became more of a torrid love affair especially as I was first starting out and building strength. As soon as you get home and feel any kind of pain take some to reduce the inflammation.

    My advice (and I should mention here that I have absolutely no medical background and that I can only off what works for me) would be to rest 3 days to a week once you get shin splints. At least that’s how long it usually took me to recover. Every time I went out for a “well, it does not feel great, but I could probably just deal with it”-run I ended up making things worse and extending the injury. After doing this a few times in a row without letting it heal it blossomed into a knee injury.
    Regarding stretching, getting the calves nice and limber before running seems to take a lot of the pressure off the shins, really work em out. 5 minutes at least before and after your run even if it’s short.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Doh! I should have thought of that. That’s a great idea! Thanks.

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Thanks Chris. I have been running on the sidewalks and asphalt so that probably isn’t helping, I’ll try to see how a softer surface works for me.

    I do stretch fairly well but could probably do with some specific stretches to target my lower legs. I get shin splints in the front of my shin, so I might need to focus on a stretch for that. Not sure what, but I know how to Google.

    I don’t run on consecutive days at all. I have at least one full day between runs and this morning was the first time I have run since Tuesday evening.

    If I need to let my shins heal, how long would that take and how do I know when they’re good? Just when the pain has subsided? I’d hate to lose the mental momentum I’ve gained by stopping now :(

    Great advice though. I’ll let you know how it goes – fingers crossed.

  • http://www.adventureinprogress.com/ Damien @ ADVENTUREinPROGRESS

    Brian, if you pose the question in the Toe Salad forum, I can have one of my medical experts (Mark Cucuzella) weigh in as well.

  • Chris Marks

    When I first started running I used to get Shin Splints a lot even in short runs like 3-5k. Now that I’m running more like 5-7 miles and training for a marathon I actually almost never get them.

    First let them heal, and fully. Trying to push through the pain only makes it worse and will probably eventually lead to other injuries as you make slight adjustments in how you land.
    Secondly, get off concrete sidewalks. Concrete is a really hard surface to run on because it has very little give. Asphalt is better because it has a little more cushion but it’s best to run on a dirt trail. I was very hesitant to make the switch but it’s made a world of a difference.

    Finally, stretch before you run. Probably the biggest factor in alleviating my shin splints was about a 5 minute stretch, particularly stretching out my calves with lunges (you’ll feel them stretch out if you’re doing it right)

    Additionally you can try spacing out your runs a bit more. If you’re running three days consecutively your body may not have a chance to heal fully. Even though your muscles may not feel sore the joints might still need to recover. If you ran the previous night, then first thing in the morning the lack of heal-time might be what triggered your shin splints.