Shin Splints Treatment and Why They Suck

Thanks to everyone who commented on yesterday’s post — I did not realize how many of us really confront the issue of having friends and family who do not understand or support our participation in running or triathlon. There was some really good insight.

I did get in my four miler last night. I remembered that I have cable hooked up to the TV in my Pain Cave so I got to watch some college basketball. Of course the game I selected was a blowout and the fundamentals for both teams just weren’t there and the remote wasn’t working right. That meant four miles of pure bliss for me. But I digress. Here are the details from the ride this morning:

Distance: 21.3 miles
Time: 1:00:36
Average Watts: 170 watts
Normative Power: 172 watts
Average Heart Rate: 140 bpm
Total Work: 614 kJ
Average Speed: 21.1 mph

It isn’t as impressive as it seems — the distance is dependent on the cadence on the CycleOp’s Pro PT300, so you should be paying attention to the Average Watts and Total Work. What you see there is a recovery ride level of effort. The weather is supposed to be nice, so I want to ride outside this afternoon. I have to save something.

And there were a ton of entries for the contest. As you remember, the entries are now closed. I am hopeful that I will get the winner sorted out this afternoon and posted Friday morning. It is cool to find there are so many people who feel the same as I do — monitoring body composition is the more accurate way to determine how healthy you are. I think the Tanita BC-1000 is one of the coolest tools out there to calculate body fat and monitor body composition.

Shin Splints — Man Do I Hate Them

I am not a waif. If I were in a bar you would never think I was underfed. There are times in the season when I get serious that I look skinny, but my body likes to hang out between 185 and 195 lbs. If I never ran I swear my body weight would hover right between those two weights.

By my bone structure is smaller than most. I got my bones from my Mom, which means when my legs are shaved they look fantastic. For a woman’s. Most girls I know get jealous during the summer when my legs are tanned up, cut from hours on the bike, and shaved.

What that means is I am prone to shin splints. In the past when I would take the winter off and I would start running say in March, I would get shin splints. I think I would get them because I would start off the season heavier than when I finished it and the muscles at the front of my lower leg would not get worked very much duck hunting and skiing through the winter. I would just muscle through the pain and it would eventually go away.

People new to triathlon, new runners, and even walkers get shin splints. From what I have studied, there are two types of shin splints — one is muscular and the other is bone. The muscular shin splints come from your calves being stronger than the muscles in the front of your leg. Shin splints based in your bone can lead to a stress fracture but are due to the way your foot strikes the ground. When you get shin splints that are severe enough, you should have them checked out by a doctor.

The good news is there is a way to help prevent both. For the past two years I have only taken a month off of running. Now I have rolled my mileage back, but I am still putting in at least 20 miles per week. Since I work at a desk, I have the chance to do all kinds of exercises as I work. To help with shin splints, I will lift my toes towards my shins. Three times a day I will flex and hold anywhere from 20 to 40 times.

At home I will even do some isometric exercises. I will put my feet under my dresser in my bedroom and try and lift it with just my toes. I can’t lift it, of course, but the resistance is fantastic. I do know people who have had a ton of success using CEP compression socks after a long run to alleviate the pain that will come from shin splints. I haven’t tried compression socks during a run, but I keep swearing that I will. Pedaling in circles on the bike will also strengthen the muscles in the front of your legs as you pull up on the pedals.

Here is a good stretch that may help too…tuck those feet under and feel the stretch in the front of your legs.

With shin splints that are based in your bones, you need to get motion control shoes and/or orthotics. I don’t use either, but I would suggest if you are having this problem, go to your running store your podiatrist recommends and have a fitting.

This is the best video I have seen on the topic in a while. While it validates most of what I said, there are some additional tidbits you can pull out of it if you have shin splints.

No doubt about it — I hate shin splints. There is little that can end a good run quicker than the familiar pain in the front of your leg. The good news is a good PT can help you with exercises and stretches to prevent muscular shin splints. All you need is a good podiatrist who is a runner who can help you with the right type of orthics and you can prevent the bone based shin splints. Just one more thing to spend money on, right?

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...