The Dreaded Shin Splints!

Was doing my sprints and plyos session today and my shins were in serious pain. It happened yesterday as well during hill sprints but not to this extent. So I’m pretty certain my old shin splints are back :frowning: Damn, just when I was getting into the groove.

I’ve got custom made orthotics recently (after I grew out of my old ones) and the orthotist said my feet over pronate. He gave me a new set and after wearing them in, in the first week, I slowly increased my training volume and intensity (see my journal).

Maybe my shoes are the problem, they are getting a bit old, but that probably isn’t a major factor. I’ve heard that one of the big causes of shin splints is poor dorsiflexion, and I think that might be my problem.

How should I go about adjusting my training routine? What exercises should I do that will help improve dorsiflexion?

First off stop training when you get shin pain and switch to another modality that doesn’t affect the shins. If you do tempo on the track try doing it on the grass or try doing it in the pool. If you do plyos then stop doing them and try olympic lifting instead etc…

I have found that if you stop early enough they will never come on. The problems seem to arise when you try and train through the pain. Generally for me when i was an athlete I found that if properly managed it didn’t really impingue on my training (i still got better every year). Sometimes it is better to do less and stay healthy than do more and have to live with pain.

Thanks. Yeh I think the plyos could be creating a problem, so I’ll definitely be dropping them, at least for now.

I’ve been doing my training on grass only, so the surface shouldn’t be a problem…Unfortunately can’t get access to the schools pool at this time of the year.

I don’t really want to stop training because I’ve just got into my footy season, so should I maybe lay off the volume a tad?

I’m going to do some more tempo work today so I’ll see if the problem still exists and assess it from there…

ice baths are very good too. Try 15min with 0-5°C

I struggled with shin splints for years, but now am comletely over them. I also was told that I over pronate and used orthtics in the past. But now, don’t even need them.

I think there were four key things that I did:

  1. First stop doing the things that make them hurt…at least until you get past the acute pain phase. Take it easy and slowly build up your volume. Try to do lots of runs in on softer surfaces such as grass when possible.

  2. Strengthen the muscle on the front of your shin. There are lots of ways to do this. I started out by using a bicycle inner tube hooked over the top of my foot and pull your toe towards your chin. Then I found the DARD which makes the exercise much eaiser and more effective. Now, if I ever start to feel any shin pain, I simply grab the DARD and do a couple of sets over the next week or so and my shin splints never manifest. Google: Dynamic Axial Resistance Device for more info.

  3. Stretch. Hopefully you are already doing this, but make sure to get both your calf and the muscles that dorsiflex your foot.

  4. Strengthen your foot. The best way is probably to use EMS, but you can also do things like bunch up a towel with your toes, etc.

Good luck!

I didnt say stop training I said change the modality to something that doesn’t cause pain but does the same thing. I had no problems doing cleans when I had shin splints but i couldn’t touch plyos. Just restructure your training to something you can do.

Yes playing with volume may be a way aorund it. Also increased frequency of practice but with less volume per session may be a way to go. This basically increases the amount of rest your muscles get…

Face a mirror standing straight and relaxed and take a look at your knees. Now, squeeze your glutes. Did your knees move so that they face straight ahead? If so then you need to strengthen the glutes and external hip rotators whilest stretching the internal hip rotators (hip flexors mainly). Prone hip extensions, bird dogs, fire hydrants, mini-band side steps etc. are good glute and external hip rotation movements.

If that is not the problem, it could be tight quads or perhaps just pronated feet in general. Here is an article that talks about this topic of pronated and supinated feet and their relationship to the hip:

Shin Splints hurt

Do you ever use EMS on the feet outside of a max strength phase? like in maintenance or in-season? Its kind of hard to do effective exercises to strengthen the feet and some of us non-sprinters have to focus on other components on our low intensity days rather than doing tempo barefoot on grass.

Thus, EMS on feet would be a nice option as it is definitely effective and doesnt impose more leg volume or pounding.

Yes, I tend to do it more often on my feet because I see it as “pre-hab”. Feel free to incorproate it throughout your program, but still cycle it on and off (2 weeks/3 weeks?) or something like that…I don’t generally have a set plan for EMS work on my feet, I tend to be more instinctual about it.

also, calf raises wearing only joggers for lack of support. Go real heavy and do massive stretching holds at the bottom of the movement. Reps around 12-15 not only really burn the calf but with the lack of shoe support, burn the stufffing out of the feet muscles too.

I’m with this absolutly. Same senario happened with me a few years ago. I couldn’t walk from the pain but now. Thank god. Take care of these 4 key points… I’d just like to add two that might help out.

  1. Massage the areas that you might suspect, are going to hurt the next day in training. Used your own hands. If you like you can do all of lower leg, but concentrate a bit on the main points that might hurt. But you start doing this kind of massage when the pain has started fading so that you don’t get inflammation or a worsend injury

  2. Take another look at your shoe. don’t wear old shoes. Trust me. Your legs and feet deserve every penny you pay.

Great point…this should have been number 5 on my list. Self massage on the calves and shins is easy to do and works wonders (for me at least!) It is actually the first thing that I do if I start to feel any shin pain.

Do kneading up and down the inside and outside of the shin bone, then starting at the ankle, use a “wringing” motion on the lower leg working your way up to the knee.

The cool thing is that it only takes a few moments and you can do it any time. I tend to fit it in before running and then right before I go to sleep at night.

Although Compartment Syndrom and Shin Splints aren’t the same type of injury, it’s the same general area. One thing that I noticed about massage is that it often aggravates the site so I would be weary about doing it right before running. Before bed and after running are awesome though!

This of course all depends on the type of massage, and the extent/degree of the injury. If it is to be done before running, then it would not be a deep sort of massage, but a light, fast get-the-circulation-going sort of massage.

What xlr8 describes should be good as well if the problem is tight shins and calves.

i know im gunna step on some ppls toes with this one but why would you wear orthodics, they only act as a crutch for your problem. i am assuming that ppl wear these because of arch problems to support their arch or whatever but the human arch was meant to support itself and buying shoes with high arches or putting in inserts which serve the same purpose only mask the problem. i traing in shoes with flat soles or i train barefoot since ive trained like this i have had not foot problems and no i dont have flat feet i have so called high arches. if your buying the orthodics for other reasons such as hip misalgnment or for whatever reason then the problem is the same you need to strengthen the muscles that are causes the problem not only that you need to make sure that your body is neurologiclaly using those muscles properly… just a thought.

Proper Orthotics help. Have you watched The Jane Project DVD? The professional on the vid explains a lot about why a person would need orthotics and what type (soft compared to hard) etc. Not everyone needs them, but for sure some people do…especially after their toes have been stepped on.

physiologically and kinesilogy speaking the humand foot along with the rest of the body s meant to work in a certain way. now when a person needs orthodics these can be beneficial as in they mask the problem stop the pain, and allow one to continue training or competing (hopefully). but still these act as a crutch fur a defecient body structure. if you address the problem and not the symptoms, and orthodics and inserts do only solve the symptoms, your body will be the way it should be and fuction kinesiliologically in a sound manner. besides who wants to wear orthodics for the rest of their life or competing carrer. youll be like those guys who sell the stuff looking like they are wearing giant platform wooden shoes. jk…

Hope your legs are exactly the same length. If they aren’t, it’ll be tough to “address the problem” by growing the one leg and not the other!

alot of the times leg length differences can be explained by a neurological imbalance in the muscles around the hip joint one side will be pulling on the femur usuallyy the psoas i believe can cause leg length imbalances, which can be addressed ive had it done to myself. now ofcorse if you have some genetic abnormality leding to some structual differences from that of a physiologically sound human being then yea you will probably need some help to fix natures mistake. but physiologically speaking all humans are meant to operate in a certain way and that doesnt include the use of orthodics. attack the cause of the imbalance to the symptoms.