Curing Shin-Splints

How to fix your shin-splints forever!

I've been dealing with Posterior Shin-Splints for a few years now, and I've finally been able to get them under control effectively. I'll walk you through my training and recovery, so hopefully if you're a chronic sufferer you can control or get rid of them completely.


 Shin-splints are a fairly common problem among runners. Unfortunately for us, their isn't very conclusive evidence on what causes them or how to treat them. Some suggest motion-control shoes and others suggest minimalist shoes, Some suggest icing, and others suggest heating or not icing at all. There are, however, a few universal things suggested. So here I'll sort out what definitely worked for me, what may have helped, and what hurt me.


First let's identify what type of shin-splints you're dealing with. If it's on your lower inside leg you have what are known as Posterior Shin Splints, and if it's on your upper outer leg you have Anterior Shin Splints. My experience is with Posterior Shin Splints. This article can be extrapolated to Anterior Shin Splints, but I can't guarantee that everything will apply. Applying pressure to the edge of the bone should be painful, not excruciating, but it should definitely be noticeable. If it's excruciating, I suggest you go see a doctor, because you're shin splints may have grown into stress fractures.

Techniques I Know Work

Foam Rollers:
Muscle tightness was a big contributor to my shin splints. I would get extremely tight calves that I was forever trying to find a good way to stretch. Unfortunately for me, stretching was not enough to alleviate the tightness. My mom introduced me to a foam roller and my life changed. I was skeptical at first, after all how could a piece of foam be the miracle fix to my problem. It was extremely painful to use at first, but then I noticed my legs became much more loose and the continued use of the foam roller ceased to cause me pain. This is when I upgraded to PVC pipe since the foam was no longer hard enough to cause me discomfort. This was an entirely new painful experience which continued my progress. I still use the PVC pipe 1-2 times every day and I contribute a large percentage of my cure to this simple and cheap object.

How to use a foam roller and check out this video too
Just a few notes on this too. Don't roll over your joints (applying pressure to the side of your knee would be a bad idea) and the more it hurts the more you need it (I was ready to cry the first time I used it)

Shoes:
This is another extremely important piece of equipment to help get rid of your shin splints. I can't tell you what kind of shoes you need or what kind of gait and foot-strike you have, but a good running shoe store should have employees who can analyze this for you. Worn out shoes or incorrect shoes are guaranteed to cause you problems. In my case minimalist shoes contribute to my problem so I try to stay away from them, your case could be entirely different, but one thing is for certain and that is that good footwear will make a world of difference.

Over-training:
Initially I could not break 15 miles a week without getting shin-splints. Today, as of writing this I'm nearing 40 miles per week with no pain. On occasion I still deal with shin splints, but I found that too many hard days of running in a week, contributed to my shin-splints much more than the mileage ever has. A majority of your mileage should be slow and easy (you should be able to talk fairly comfortably) If you feel like you're running hard, every run, you need to cut it back and just focus on building easy base mileage. take a few months off and just focus on increasing distance, don't even think about your speed.

Techniques that may help

Foot-Strike:
I switched from a heel-strike to a mid-foot strike about a year ago. I can say for certain that it has helped my overall running, but shin-splints did re-occur despite the foot-strike change. I would recommend trying to switch to a mid-foot strike, but it may not be the secret to getting rid of your shin-splints

Stretching:
I highly recommend stretching after running. Although I believe it has helped me, it's hard to say since I do not have a good way of testing this out. I've always stretched, but I do feel that when I stretch for longer and more thoroughly that my legs feel better.

Icing:
Many people recommend icing. I have noticed that it helps alleviate pain when it begins to crop up, but to the question of does it prevent shin-splints; I don't know the answer to that.

Techniques that did not help

Minimalist shoes:
I can say for certain that increased wearing of my minimalist shoes has increased my shin-splint occurrence, don't fall into the trap of this fad. I do however suggest you try them out, and make them a training tool, not an everyday thing.

This is just a draft, but I'm leaving it up so you can use it! Sorry for any typos, the info is still good.


13 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Posterior shin splints are a new occurrence to me. I also feel like improper training in my minimalist shoes probably contributed to the pain. I have tried all kinds of stretches and exercises to strengthen my arches, and stretch my calves, but not a foam roller. And now that you mention it...my calves do feel very tight.

    Liz

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  2. I would like to add the 10% increase rule. I stopped getting shin splints when I finally learned how to never increase my weekly running distance with 10% (or even 5%). Before, I could run 20 miles one week and then 30 miles the week after, that was a huge mistake

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    1. Yes, you are very correct Sarah. When it comes to training it's better to undertrain and gradually work your way up instead of overtraining and getting injured.

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  3. These may work for most but has anyone undergone surgery to help with shin splints? I understand there are new, less invasive surgical options that may help with severe cases and wonder if anyone knows more. Thanks.

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    1. Keep in mind the term "shin splints" doesn't actually mean anything besides the pain runners feel in their shins, which can be caused by any number of conditions. In other words, unless you have compartment sydrome, no doctor is going to perform surgery on you to relieve "shin splints" when medical professionals aren't even sure what causes them in the first place.

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  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  5. Thank you for this info. I am currently trying to work through my shin splints and get to the cause...My shin splints are pretty painful when I rub them. On my right calf (posterior) there is even a slight lump where the splint is. Can anyone else feel theirs? Or is it just me?

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    1. From what I understand, if there us a lump, then there is or has been an actual muscle tear. You'll need to let it thoroughly heal, then work out the scar tissue with a foam roller.
      But, don't trust me. Instead, see a doctor for more sccurate advice.

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  6. Hi,
    thank you for sharing your thoughts in this topic.
    I'm also struggeling with shin splints from time to time, I'll definitely consider your hints and enhance my treatment.

    Thanks!

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  7. I have terrible shin splint cant run 3k without pain. I have started with the foam roller, how often should I roll, as it were. 1, 2 or 3 times per day?

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    1. Start slow and increase, I don't really think you can overdo it unless you are some rough on the muscle you damage it and I'm guessing you can tell if you are causing real damage. Don't forget to roll out the bottom of your feet! That has helped me a lot

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  8. Hi, I've been battling posterior shin splints for almost 18 months now and have tried heaps of different things. Could you let me know what shoes you're using now. I changed from soft runners to minimal runners with no improvement and am now looking at trying some stability controlling runners. I have a good arch and good strength but this maybe the way to go.

    Cheers
    Ben

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  9. Thanks for the post, you helped me out of shin splints!!! I had bad posterior shin splints for 6 weeks due to overtraining during transition to minimalist shoes. I could not run at all because of the pain. I was trying with icing but did not help. Then I read your writing and started to cure myself with foam rolling and wearing cheap (not custom made) orthotics in my casual shoes all day. I immediately felt the improvement and in about ten days I was completely cured. Since then I do not wear my orthotics any more but I roll my calves regularly. Now I use a rolling pin (a normal one from the kitchen) instead of the foam roller because I did not like to hold my body while foam rolling, during rolling the muscles of my upper body got stiff. My routine is: rolling + dynamic stretching before run and rolling again post-run after hot shower. Everything is fine with my lower leg so far, tender calves, no pain.

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