Shin Splints

by Kerrie/Joe answer by Marius

Shin Splints

Shin Splints

Shin splints is a common "unspecific" way of explaining a front side leg pain which is common for runners. I received two questions from two readers concerning this and will try and explain a few things about shin splints and how to get rid of it/deal with it.

First a question from Kerrie :

I have recently begun running/jogging daily as an exercise routine. I am about 40 lbs. overweight. Does this have an affect on the pain in my shins or could it be running form?

Then this one from Joe :

I've got terrible shin splints. Usually they fade away. However, I just finished a 20-miler and now I'm tapering (3 weeks). But, they have gotten much worse (almost unbearable).

If I push my marathon back 2 weeks (which I've done) and since I've put in the training up to my peak week, will taking a couple of weeks off to heal (and resume my tapering after that healing time) compromise my training?

Or will my body "remember" where it was in the training program? Maybe one week instead of two? Please help!, Joe

First to the question from Kerrie.

How To Deal With Shin Splints

It is important to be aware of that shin splints are usually a muscular problem. Most are not aware of this - it is a common misconception (among doctors and runners) that this is caused by the tight fascias/localized problems that occur when training too much.

The main problem in my experience, however, is due to overworked muscles with too high tension. To be more specific the flexor muscle going to the big toe.

Take a look at the photo I have added above. There I have palpated how this muscle goes : it goes right next to the front tibial bone of the leg. So if you feel there yourself and it is painful - and if you also have pain especially in the toe-off, then this is likely the problem.

Kerrie, there are three main way you can fix this :

1. Use compression socks when training

Get a pair of compression socks (similar to those used on long flights) and do your runs with these. This helps release muscular tension and the "recovery" of the overstrained muscle.

2. Alternate running and walking

Try to run/walk the sessions instead of just running. You may want to use this type approach that I have talked about here coach to 5k

3. Alternate running and the bike plus self cross friction massage of the muscle

If you alternate running and the bike you can release some of the tension and make the shin split problem much less as well.

Plus, try and massage the muscle itself - about every other day.

The overweight you talk about can be an issue but with these adjustments you should be alright to continue running.

Now to the question from Joe.

Shin Splits When Approaching A Marathon

My advice to you is similar to the ones given to Kerrie : get compression socks and use them on all workouts and alternate running/walking for the at least a week/10 days to come.

And do self massage.

I do not recommend full rest - even if you are tapering of your marathon training. This causes the muscles to go into "resting mode".

You can rest fully now for 3-4 days but after that try the running/walking alternation way to keep the legs somewhat going, together with the other advice. If you feel ok after that, you can slowly get in 1-2 sessions of some strides/shorter intervalls + some full runs before the marathon and you will be fine.

I wish you both all the best with your running!


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