Go Further: Shin Splints

A couple of you have complained about shin splints.  I feel your pain, because I used to get them and they nearly cost me my career as a professional frisbee-er.  Well, I quit for other reasons (didn’t do enough drugs), but anyway.  I tried to run, it hurt like the dickens, I stopped running, I would try to run again, the pain would come back.

I already wore custom orthotics, but I didn’t wear proper running shoes and my orthotics were the stiff, hard plastic half-foot orthotics.  They didn’t quite fit my feet right.  But I didn’t want to get new ones.  I tried to run for awhile, but I didn’t really like it and rarely went more than a mile, and rarely went regularly, so the shin splints seemed to disappear.  I was afraid to start a habit though, because I remembered how badly it hurt.

Finally, before I went to study abroad in Rome, I went to my podiatrist and said, “I want to start running – I think I need to get those neoprene orthotics.”  My podiatrist’s response, “Man, running is the best! You should totally start running.  Let me go get those foam things for you to stick your feet in.”  Runners, man.

The biggest problem with shin splints is that there isn’t a very good way to treat them.  A lot of people get discouraged and quit, and some will run through the pain.  (Just take enough time between runs.)  This article from Runner’s World talks about shin splints as a “too much too soon” problem, but I’m guessing there is also something to be said for proper form.  Going for a midfoot stride rather than a sharp heel strike will help with your form and reduce pressure on your feet/legs.  I found the book Chi Running to be somewhat helpful (but would recommend library-ing it instead of buying.)

A few other ideas – don’t run on brick; make sure you are wearing proper shoes; and at least consider custom orthotics, especially if you also experience knee or hip pain when running or walking.  Ice is good, rest is good, weight training and/or yoga can’t possibly hurt.  I’m not a doctor, but when my PT friend gets back from her running injury clinic, I’ll definitely check in with her.



Filed under Exercise and Fitness

4 responses to “Go Further: Shin Splints

  1. Jo

    I need to learn chi running when I eventually re-start. For now I’m just going to do low-impact stuff.

  2. So, I’m not a doctor and I don’t know if it’s totally applicable to everyone, but I used to get shin splints (not terrible, and not often, since I used to not run very much), but doing barefoot running has completely gotten rid of them for me. I suspect I was heel striking, because the first time you do it without the padding of a normal sneaker is usually the last time you do it (ouch!). I run in the vibram five-fingers, but just running with no shoes a few times would probably help get rid of the habit, and hopefully alleviate some of the shin splint issues.

  3. Glad you posted this. I’ve been upping my mileage ever so carefully, so I think it was a combo of the hills, those stiff half-foot orthotics and possibly new, but not -right-for-me-shoes. So so discouraging though!

    Thanks for linking to that article! Time to do some cross-training!

    • vadoporroesq

      I actually went back to the half-foot orthotics, but the trick my running store taught me is to take the insole out, put the orthotic in, and then put the insole on top of the orthotic. It helps it stay in place much better, and you get better padding on top of the orthotics.

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