Get Over It: Shin Pain
Exercises and advice to keep your lower legs healthy and strong.
Shin splints are a common beginner’s injury, so many seasoned runners assume they’re immune. But medial tibial stress syndrome, the top cause of shin splints, is usually triggered by overtraining–something that can befall even experienced runners. If you feel soreness or pain along your shinbone while running, check your training log. Chances are you’ve increased your mileage or intensity too much without enough rest. Other causes include running on hard or uneven road surfaces and wearing worn-out shoes. Stretching, strengthening, icing, and replacing shoes are effective rehab strategies (see below). If your pain persists, you might have a stress fracture or compartment syndrome, conditions that require a doctor’s care.
At the first sign of discomfort, take a few days off from running. You can cross-train, but stick to low-impact activities like swimming, pool running, or cycling. Take anti-inflammatory medications and rub your shins with ice for 10 minutes after exercise. Replace your running shoes if they’ve logged 300 to 500 miles. Build range of motion in your calves and strengthen your shin muscles. When you return to running, start slowly, gradually increase your miles, and stick to softer surfaces when possible. To prevent a relapse, continue to stretch and strengthen even after your symptoms fade.
1 Sit tall in a chair with knees bent 90 degrees, feet flat on the ground. Keeping your right heel on the ground, gently raise your right forefoot up and back toward your shin until you reach a point of slight discomfort. Return it to the ground. Repeat 10 times with each foot.
2 From the same position, lift your right forefoot up, and trace the letter “J” in the air with your foot. Return it back to the ground. Repeat 10 times with each foot.
1 Sit tall in a chair with your right leg extended and an ankle weight on your foot. Slowly draw your toes back until you reach a point of slight discomfort. Then extend your toes forward until you feel tension. Repeat 10 times with each foot.
2 On a stair step, stand on the balls of your feet, heels over the edge. Slowly raise your heels, then lower them below the starting position. Repeat 10 times–and do 10 more reps with your toes inward and then outward.