Saturday, May 8, 2010

Shin Splints

I have had the hardest time picking up running because of shin splints. I feel like I’ve tried everything but I’m here to learn more and find something that may work.

From the MAYO CLINIC: The term "shin splints" refers to pain along the shinbone (tibia) — the large bone in the front of your lower leg. The pain is caused by an overload on the shinbone and the connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone. Runners World has a great article as well.

If the pain is really horrific and lasting beyond your workout, you probably should go to a doctor. They can distinguish between shin splints and a stress fracture. A good rough difference is: With medial shin splints, (medial tibial stress syndrome, MTSS), the tenderness extends along a considerable vertical distance of the tibia. When a stress fracture is present, tenderness is usually noted that extends horizontally across the front of the tibia.

In November I started saw a physical sports therapist about the pain I was experiencing CONSTANTLY. I was prescribed ice and stretching. He said most of shin pain is caused by tight calves. I was told to stretch stretch stretch. The two stretches suggested were toe on the wall and leaning and also the flat back foot and lean forward. I was told the calf stretches where the heel is not supported may no be as effective since the calf is working to hold up the heel while trying to be relaxed and stretched.

My physical therapist also made me a set of orthotics. I had some 3/4 length ones made when I was in middle school and started getting pain in the ball of my foot this fall. I thought new full length inserts would help. WELL the thing is your feet apparently change about every 5 yrs!! Granted everyone is different, some even run barefoot, but orthotics can help some people and it’s something to look into. Here’s a site which refers to shin splints and orthotics but I’m not sure of it’s legitimacy. Also new shoes could help a lot too and many running specific stores can help you pick the right shoes for your foot or refer you to a doctor.

I’ve also had some people tell me compression socks help. Mayo Clinic (site linked above) recommends compression socks to help with pain afterwards. I’m not sure about wearing them during a run, but some blogs and forums have people swearing by them to help ward off pain during a race.

Another great piece of advice was from Fitness magazine. [I’m pretty sure, couldn’t find a link but I read it in 2 diff mags] While running it was suggested to take smaller steps. More steps means less impact with each foot fall. This helped sooo much! I could run much longer than I was before. And now when I’m running and feel a bit of pain I start taking baby steps. I’m sure I look like a goon putsing about but no pain is the best thing!!

And of course the biggest advice is don’t do too much too soon! I ran intervals and walked almost everyday last summer. Then I took a month off, moved to Montana, and joined a gym. I tried running the same amount as before my move and AHHHH shin splints. I’ve been gradually increasing running starting like I never ran before and now I can run a mile without pain! Always refer to your own body with this, there are many programs out there for running starters but pushing through horrible pain can leave you on your ass!

If you’re experiencing shin splints, I would suggest RICE, stretches, and an anti inflammatory. [RICE works for many injuries and is Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation] Also I’M NOT A DOCTOR OR PROFESSIONAL OF ANY KIND!!!! I found my information from my experience, a few sessions with a physical therapist, and the internet. This is just information for you and suggestions to help. And again go to a doctor if pain is constant, or unbearable.

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