No one ever said "You're a pain in the shin!" but they should, because it seems to me that shin pain (aka spin splints) are much more common and annoying than a pain in the butt.
I know the feeling. You start running (or start running again), everything is going fine but then you're sidelined by shin splints. It is a very common problem among new runners, but luckily one that is easily treatable. The medical name for spin splits is Tibial Stress Syndrome and while they are metaphorically a pain in the butt, they are literally a pain in the shins. Shin splints are a result of inflammation in the muscle tissue in the front of your leg, generally from overuse or too-much-too-soon.
If you experience mild to moderate discomfort in the shin area when running, you may be experiencing shin splints. Here are a few things you can do to help reduce pain so you can get back to running. Everyone is different, so if you are not improving or the pain gets worse, please see your doctor. You may have a stress fracture or other condition more serious than shin splints. Please don't read blogs for medical advice.
The first step to healing your shin splints is to rest to allow your shins to heal. Low impact cross training like swimming or biking are your best bets to keep up your cardio fitness while you heal.
Ice your shins to help reduce inflammation. Try icing for 30 minutes on/30 minutes off multiple times throughout the day.
Compression can help circulate blood flow and stimulate healing. Calf sleeves or compression socks while resting is a good place to start.
Try this exercise to build strength around the shin bone.
With bare feet place your heel on the edge of a step or curb with your foot hanging off the edge. With your legs straight, point your toes as far down as you can, then point your toes up as far as you can, repeat rapidly for 30 seconds.
Now bend your knees at a 45 degree angle (about half way to a full squat) and repeat the same thing with bent knees.
Rest for 1 minute
Repeat two more times
Repeat every day
Struggling with shin splints? Have questions? Leave them in the comments or be a part of my new series "Ask the Trainer" and have your questions answered in a future blog post.
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I am a NASM personal trainer and RRCA adult distance running coach that specializes in strength training for runners. I offer in-person training in the Shredshed, online training and Fit to Run bootcamps. If you are interested in a more in-depth running or strength training plan, please contact me. Have questions? I'd love to help.
While I am a certified personal trainer, I am not your personal trainer. Since I don't know your exercise abilities, injury background or medical history, please see your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.