On a run, nothing stops you in your tracks like the sharp pain of shin splints. This achy pain or tenderness along the shin bone is the result of small tears in the muscles. If you experience this, your training doesn’t have to come to a complete halt. With some modifications, you can stay on track and relieve your shin splint pain.
Beth Vollmar, a certified trainer with ProMedica Wildwood Athletic Club, says that shin splints make up about 15 percent of running injuries. It’s common among new runners and those returning after an extended layoff. They are usually caused by doing too much, too quickly or by wearing the wrong shoes or shoes with too many miles. People with high arches or flat feet are also at a higher risk.
“When the first twinges of pain strike, it’s best to back off your running to a comfortable level for a few days to a week,” says Vollmar. This means running at a level that causes no pain. “Then slowly up your mileage using the 10 percent rule: Don’t increase your mileage more than 10 percent per week.”
Rest, ice and ibuprofen can all aid in recovery, but there are plenty of ways to keep moving. Vollmar suggests cycling, pool running or swimming to stay active while cutting your miles. Also, adding exercises or workouts that include lateral movements into your routine (like the directional lunges featured in 4 Lower Body Strength Building Moves) can use your muscles differently and reduce the risk of shin splints.
The easiest and best way to avoid shin splints is moderation. Vollmar recommends easing into mileage gradually and not underestimating the importance of a good running shoe. “If you have high arches, you may need a more cushioned shoe; if you have flat feet, you may need a more rigid shoe,” explains Vollmar. “Beginners should consider professional assistance from a running shop.”
If you’re new to running or need to invest in some good running shoes, this video — How to Pick the Right Running Shoe — can help you get started.
Have you experienced shin splints from running? What helped? Share your experience in the comments below.