A shin splint is caused when the small muscle at the front of your lower leg becomes inflamed. As a Sports Therapist I come across these evil little beasties regularly – in fact, the moment a client complains of Pain Lower Leg, I feel for the telltale squashy swelling close to their lower shinbone and start thinking of shin splint treatment.
Shin Splint Treatment usually starts with me questioning the client on what training they’ve been doing. I listen to a litany of running for miles on hard roads in dodgy footwear, trying to run in a 5k race without having done any previous training, and worst of all, not warming-up, cooling down or stretching. I then threaten to beat them to death with a teaspoon if they don’t do as they’re advised, and give them a sports massage on the area. They rarely argue with me regarding advice on shin splints; how to get rid of them as quickly as possible is their first priority so that they can get on with their training.
Shin running problems are common and afflict both men and women. Not just athletes, either – I see lots of part-time gym goers and people who run for fun who suffer from shin splints.
When I’m asked for treatment advice, I give the following:-
- Vary the surfaces you run on – roads are built for cars to run on, not humans.
- Never increase your speed and mileage at the same time – one or the other, and not by more than 10% in one go.
- Check your footwear regularly and replace running shoes every 6 months or so.
- Have running shoes fitted properly in a store that specializes.
- Always warm up for at least 5 minutes.
- Stretch afterwards, rather than before. You may just want to get in the shower, but this is the best 5 minutes you’ll ever spend.
- Rest and ice shin splints.
- Cycle or row to take some of the strain off your shins.
- If running hurts, STOP!
- See a physio and get treatment.
Prevention is better than cure. Most shin splints are caused by overuse, so vary your training and don’t neglect strength exercises to make the muscles stronger – it’ll help. Squats, lunges and working on a Step will all help – but no jumping!
If you work on your core stability, that will take some of the strain off your legs. Try a Pilates class once a week as part of your training, and you’ll be surprised what a difference it’ll make to your running!