You’re a seasoned runner trying out new terrain. You’ve logged double digit miles every week, sometimes in a single run. Your lower legs begin to hurt.
You’re a new runner. You bought new shoes. Your hat matches your shorts. You’re super excited as you begin the new journey of running. You run and then your lower legs begin to hurt.
Your shins just hurt.
Chances are, you have shin splints.
Shin splints can occur from a variety of reasons: running on hard surfaces, having flat feet, or changing pace quickly/starting and stopping a bunch while exercising.
The pain may seem unbearable, but it will go away, eventually.
My brother, Jason, has recently entered the world of running. “I just jumped into it with bad shoes and my shin splints went bananas, my anterior tibialis wasn’t functional for a few days. ”
Ice should be your first treatment for your shin splints. Keep the frozen peas on for 20 minutes at least 4 times per day for a couple of days. It will help to have your leg(s) elevated while icing. If the pain persists, over the counter pain relievers are an option.
You should also consider arch supports for your shoes. Custom made orthotics will fit your feet perfectly, however, are very pricey. I have the same pair I got in high school over ten years with no loss of support. I find them worth it. If you’re looking for an immediate or cheaper fix, off the shelf arch supports have come a long way.
“I added a generic orthotic from the drug store and it helped a lot,” stated Jason.
If your shoes are older (at least 250 miles) you may consider getting new ones. Head to a running store, not Foot Locker or Dick’s, for a pair of shoes. The professionals at your local running company will guide you through getting the right shoes for you.
The time frame for how long shin splints will last varies from shin to shin. It can be anywhere from a few days to a six months. A doctor’s visit may be necessary if the pain persists over six months.
Preventing shin splints isn’t something most runners focus on, until one gets them.
Always warm up properly before any exercising. Be sure your legs have at least five minutes of loosening before anything strenuous.
Shoes, shoes, shoes. You need to have the right shoes for you! It’s almost an art.
Running on soft(er) surfaces benefits your entire body. “When I run on grass, gravel, dirt, etc, I feel really good, like I can really push it and just run as hard as I want without hurting them. On concrete or asphalt, I kinda take it easy and don’t throw my body weight on top of my legs,” Jason added. Skip the concrete sidewalks whenever possible. Run in the grass or road instead, always keeping safe.
Resting is hard to do but has a huge benefit. It will be a useful tool for more than just shin splints, but since shin splints are the topic, rest to help prevention or to remedy your shin splints.
Jason ended our conversation with this. “It’s like tires, if your tires are sh*t you won’t be peeling rubber and using the engine hard for fear of burning out and ruining them. But if your tires are all good, you can really let the engine rip and see how it goes.”