Shin Splints

I have an athlete that is having some shin issues…he and I believe that it could be caused by weak lower leg muscles. I was thinking of implementing some sand walks/drills. When should I implement them…the beginning of speed/technical days or on the tempo days?

I wouldn’t do them before speed work. You could do it after and on tempo days.

I would also see a therapist if possible to see if the issue is related to tightness in some of the deeper muscles of the calf.

has anyone tried those Nike free running shoes? haven’t worn them myself but they are supposed to be good for strengthening feet/lower leg muscles which could be very helpful for these sorts of issues. from what i have heard you would have to implement them very gradually as they can leave the average shoe-dweller quite sore

not a big fan, struggled with patella tendonitis and shin splints with these. But maybe you wont if you do implement them gradually and use them on the proper surfaces

the bloke in the shoe shop was telling me to just use my old trainers in the gym (cos theyre a bit bulkier/absorb the force a bit better), start out using the nike free’s for 30mins or so just for everyday use and then i could start using them for warm up/warm down and gradually phase out the trainers completely. tempo work would be done best in track flats as they are lighter.

doing anything on the beach is great for food strength and you could try implementing barefoot running as part of the warm down. wouldnt personally do a whole tempo session barefoot unless the volume was relatively low (~1000mish) - on grass of course!

how has the sand work been going mdtrackcoach?

With shin splints, shoes can trump everything (therapy, drills, etc). Lend a critical eye to footwear (practice footwear and casual).

plus wear long skins and skins powersox during recovery, increased bloodflow without increased heart rate


An old training buddy and I used to suffer from shin splints quite alot and used to have a hard time with our sprints. We found that strengthening the Tibialis anterior muscle which is your shin muscle pretty much killed the unpleasent shin splint experience. I found tucking my feet off the end of my mattress and pulling my toes up and down in sets of 3 was sufficient to begin with. after a while I started with the weights. I would get a 7kg bar bell and put a few kgs on the bar. In a sitting position I would have my heel flat on the floor and only pull my toes up 3 sets of 10. It doesnt really matter how it is done I just found this was the easiest for me. Massaging the calves and quads also aids big time. I used to do these during my weights sess which was a speed day, though many would apose that. It will also help while sprinting pulling your toes toward your knee to reduce contact time with each stride. I hope this helps. As I said this is only what my buddy and I did and it worked for us. :cool:

After a long bout of shin splints, I came to the following conclusion: Orthotics are merely a crutch. Pick up a pair of Nike Free 3.0’s, and just start off by wearing them around for a few weeks. Do some light jogging in your regular running shoes a few days a week. After say, 2-3 weeks, or when wearing Nike Frees around feels okay, start doing light warm up drills in your Nike Frees before doing light jogs in your regular running shoes. After a few more weeks, you should be able to start doing everything in the Nike Frees, but still keep the intensity down. Build up over the course of a couple months.

This is what I did, and my shin splints are gone. No special calf/shin exercises, no massage, no stretching, none of that. Maybe that’s just me, but I’ve made so many threads on this site about shin splints that there will most definitely be at least one person reading this post who knows how much I cried back in the day.

Seriously, give this a shot. I wouldn’t want anybody to suffer as long as I have.

Also, as of late I’ve taken aerobic condition more seriously. I prefer beginning with a low impact warmup (elliptical), then do my warm up run, etc, all before my sprint workout. This could play a role in recovery

The problem with saying that orthotics are just a crutch how do you overcome overpronation?

Are you saying that you can unflatten arches? Some people naturally have flat feet and in that case over pronation causes the shockwaves when running to travel up the shin rather than at an angle away from it, and tires all the lower leg muscles in having to over compensate for this.

I suffer badly from shin splints and am specifically focusing on my tibialis posterior and strengthenging all my lower leg and foot muscles/tendons etc…but I do also have orthotics which I need to wear aswell.

I do think that for some people an orthotic is needed due to the way in which their body naturally is.

It depends on whether your problems are down to a weakness in the lower leg muscles which can be sorted, or whether it is down to being flat footed/ dropped arches or over pronated naturally.

The same thoughts crossed my mind too, and I merely narrowed it down to two ideas:

  1. Overpronation really isn’t that bad
  2. If we stop wearing big comfy shoes, correct our posture, and strengthen properly, overpronation will correct itself over time.

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, both feet pointed straight ahead. Shift the hips backwards(stick your butt out), and notice what happens to your pronation. They begin to overpronate, right? Now shift them forward, and notice what happens to your pronation/arch. You probably notice your flat footedness going away a bit

I have ‘flat feet’, but after trying orthotics for the longest time, and all the biggest, comfiest shoes, trying EMS, ice, special exercises, stretches, DMOS, ibuprofen, etc, I just took the least obvious route and tried the Nike Frees.

Hopefully your plan of attack works. But if for whatever reason it doesn’t, try out the Nike Frees. If you stand a lot, your feet will ache at first. But just stick through it, and eventually wearing them around feels completely normal. I wear them everywhere, and I love being able to feel what my feet were designed to feel.

Steel. Glad to see you solved your problem after all this time. Sometimes it takes way too long to find the right fix. I will add your information to my brain archives. Thanks.

I’m justhappy that the pain is gone :slight_smile: hopefully others going through the same pain will find the advice helpful!

Walking on your heels for 20m a couple of times before each work out, does good. Just rub them as often as possible, ice massage works great too.

Barefoot running in the warm down progressing to using it for tempo could be another option. I believe the foot strength gained from these activities (and as mentioned by UnlimitedSteel) will significantly aid in overcoming the pronating foot, which is typically long and flat due to a lack of musculature in the medial longitudinal arch. Developing these muscles will subsequently develop this arch and help pronation conditions e.g. bunions.

It is also worth noting the change in running biomechanics in ‘big comfy shoes’ vs. barefoot/nike free. typically runners in shoes will strike heel/toe, allowing for much more pronation, and subsequently, a greater strain conveyed to the rest of the body. on the other hand, barefoot runners will tend to strike on the balls of their feet, almost in a toe/heel pattern (think of how you land from a plyo jump), allowing for much less pronation - which has the major benefit of absorbing the ground forces more efficiently. surely barefoot running presents the better option in terms of biomechanics - although shoe dwellers may take some time to adjust. i think training on grass or sand in bare feet could be a hugely beneficial general prep idea.

if we were meant to run in shoes, how did nomadic humans run for hundreds of miles at a stretch to track their prey? don’t think they had shin splints, plantar fasciiitis or achilles tendionopathies back then!

I guess when I say natural over-pronation what I mean is that it is caused by your environment/lifestyle i.e growing up wearing very cushioned shoes, desk jobs, bad posture etc etc…

Hopefully your correct and all the exercise I am doing overcome the need for orthotics!

Thanks for your advice

Good luck with everything.
One last point I should have mentioned before regarding the Nike Frees; All running at this point should be on grass. In fact, I prefer running on grass now, and this may have as much to do with the elimination of the shin splints as the change in footwear.