9 Ways to Combat Shin Splints
Before you kick off the spring running season, make sure your body is fully prepared to log the miles injury-free. These tips will help you avoid dreaded lower-leg pain.
TREAT SHIN SPLINTS
Diagnose The Pain
Pay attention to your body. With a classic shin splint, the painful area covers most of the front of your lower leg, but has no long-term degenerative effect. As you’re running, it usually goes away and never exacerbates. Acute pain in one spot could be a more serious stress fracture, making you unable to run at all.
Insert An Orthotic
If you notice you’ve been heel striking or overpronating, replace your shoe’s foam liner with a plastic orthotic for additional arch support. This helps treat and prevent shin splints—not to mention other overuse injuries, like plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, iliotibial band, and runner’s knee. Your local running store should have form-fitted orthotics available.
Reduce (But Don’t Stop) Running
While you’ll likely want to cut back on frequency and distance, a shin splint doesn’t mean your running career has to come to a screeching halt. Try icing and massaging your calf muscles for 20 minutes a couple of times a day. It’s all about staying below the threshold of further irritation. Train super gently or just lay off for a few days and cross train in the pool or on a bike to allow the shin to heal. Aim to run half the distance you ran before while increasing the walking frequency. If you didn’t run at all before, run/walk at a 2:1 ratio. If you took walk breaks before, run/walk at a 1:1 ratio. If you regularly maintain a 1:1 ratio, run 15 minutes and walk 45. If the pain continues, allow for a 1-2 week recovery period.
Seek Out A Healthcare Provider
Whether you’re overstriding, suffering from weak muscles, or have a shaky stance, biomechanics could be at the root of your problem. Gait—how you place your feet, stride, and strike—plays a role in running injuries. Find a podiatrist or physical therapist who knows running, has treated shin splints, and wants to help you continue running, if possible. Have them look at your form, define what might be contributing to your pain, and prescribe healing exercises. And ask your doc about cutting-edge healing treatments, like cold lasers, which Jeffers recommends—they speed up recovery and reduce inflammation.