Shin Splint Tips!

It seems like every second runner I talk to has struggled with shin splints at some stage in their running life. It’s such a common problem, and for those of us who have it chronically, there is nothing so annoying as your shins flaring up a week or two before a race! I’ve had difficulties with my shins for three or four years now, but over the past year and a bit, I’ve finally managed to nut down the things that work for me. I’ve been able to run consistently three times a week for almost a year, and though that’s not ideal (I’d love to run every day!), after having to go long periods of not running at all due to shin injury, I’m grateful just to get out there. I though maybe other runners could benefit from what I’ve come up with through a lot of trial. I should note that this is what works for me and some of the other shin-splint-prone runners I know, and I’m not a professional, but I always appreciate hearing what works for other runners, so maybe you guys feel the same! If you’ve got anything to add, please add it, or message me!

  • ICE - you probably all know this one but it’s a biggie! Icing your shins after a run is one of the best ways to prevent shin pain. Seriously, everyone I talk to has said this works for them and every professional I’ve talked to has recommended it as well. Try and ice your shins as soon as possible after you run, for 10 - 15 mins. Trust me on this one!
  • Wear the right shoes and replace them regularly. This is important for all runners, but especially if you’re injury prone! Running shoes wear out a lot quicker than most people realise, and it’s so important for your feet to be properly supported and a worn out shoe that isn’t right for your feet can’t do that very well. So keep an eye on those shoes and have them properly fitted! If you run on consecutive days a lot, and you can afford it, a great idea is to have two pairs you can rotate between.
  • Strengthen the muscles that support your shins. Your glutes, hips and core all work really hard while you’re running, and they also act as stabilisers to help prevent problems in your lower legs. I’ve noticed huge improvements since making it a priority to work these muscles. Pilates exercises that target your deep core muscles are great, and as well as weighted squats and lunges, try single leg squats and bridges for your glutes. Try and do these exercises as regularly as you can (I try and squeeze in a couple of sets each day, but try for three times a week to start with)!
  • S-t-r-e-e-e-e-t-t-t-c-c-c-h-h-h! This is my biggest pitfall because I find stretching SO boring, but it’s crucial for all runners, including those with shin splints. By keeping my calves loose and stretched out, I’ve found the strain on my shins in a lot less, and as I noted above, your glutes and hips are really important, so they need to be keep nice and flexible as well. Try and stretch after each and every run, even if you don’t get to it for a few hours. It will still make a difference! For those like me, who abhor stretching, yoga is a fun and relaxing way to increase your flexibility and get all loosened up, but make sure whatever poses you do are targeting those important muscles as well!
  • Self massage. Depending on how bad your shin splints are, this one can be something you do as an ongoing thing, or just when your shins flare up. Use your fingers and a warming cream like Deep Heat or Tiger Balm to get right into those calves and shins. You can Google more specific directions for massaging your shins, but don’t be afraid to get right in there - it will hurt but it will help! For my glutes, I like sitting on a tens ball on a hard surface, and moving around on top of the tennis ball to target different areas of my glutes.
  • Warm up. Some runners like to warm up slowly while other prefer to get into it pretty quickly, but with shin splints, I’ve found a slower approach is always better. If you have time, giving your shins a quick rub with some heating cream is ideal, and from there, it’s really helpful to do a bit of brisk walking before you start running. I know, I know, walking… it feels so lame when you could be running, but I’ve found that warming my shins up before I run minimises pain.
  • Check your surface! I run in trails, and do trackwork on a grass track. I very rarely run on hard surfaces because they just make my shins go crazy. Stick to softer surfaces when it can, it’s far more gentle. Save the hard surfaces for races!
  • Don’t overdo it! If you’re trying to increase your distance, stick like glue to the 10% rule (only increase your distance by 10% each week), to allow your shins time to get used to the extra load. Same with speedwork - don’t increase your speedwork load too quickly either, and if you’re only just introducing speedwork, take it session by session and stick to one a week.
  • If you have to, take a day between runs. I’ve tried running on consecutive days, and at this stage my legs just can’t do it as a regular thing. Having a day between runs gives your shins plenty of time to recover and recuperate before they get battered again.
  • Remember you can still work hard! There have definitely been rare occasions when I’m not feeling so fast and fired up, and I’m so ready to take it easy and blame it on ‘not wanting to aggravate my shins’ but it’s not an excuse! Be aware and be careful, but if you’re feeling good, your shins are feeling good and you’re taking care of your legs, don’t be afraid to rip it up! 

I hope these tips gave you something beneficial, and I’d love to hear of anything else you guys have found useful for shin splints. Happy running!

Posted on Monday, March 25th at 06:54AM with 96 notes

tagged as: running, runner, shin splints, running problems, runblr, runspo, injury, running tips, run, track, cross country, xc, mine, personal,
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