What can you do to maintain your training progress when you have shin splints?

Hello Almighty Sprinting Gods,
Any ideas on how to maintain gains in strength, speed and endurance when suffering from shin splintz? And how would a person go about preventing shin splintz in the future? Any help would be great. :eek:


heres a quick link.may help may not!

There is no easy answer.

Since shin splints is an overuse injury you were doing something too often above the level your body could withstand.

To prevent this in the future you want to make sure that when you do something you are ready to do it. E.g. you are conditioned enough to handle the stress and are getting the right regeneration work to allow you to handle that stress over time. So strengthening work, massage etc helps.

However, you now have a painful decision to make because in order to allow your body to recover you will need to severly cut back on training if you want to make a full recovery quickly.

If you choose this path I would switch my emphasis to work you can handle that will be beneficial to your running e.g. gym work and pool work. Then when your body is recovered you will have more capacity to come back and take it to the next level. Once you have recovered it is then a matter of listening to your body and making sure you don’t over do it again (easier said than done).

The only other alternative is to train through shin splints but realise that you probably will never reach your maximum potential due to the problem. I have seen many try this approach and then take many months to recover when they realise enough is enough.

My personal belief is that shin splints can always be avoided because training that is performed outside of the capcity of the individual’s ability to cope with the stress has no benefit.

A good coach should alter training to accomodate individual problems and a good athlete should be in touch with their body enough to know how much they can handle and relay this information to thier coach.

Unfortunitly “No pain no gain” is so routed in sporting culture that it is rare for either of the above to happen.

Apart from all the otrher advice which is sound, if you need a short-term answer to mild shin-splints, you can try Aspro Clear which for some reason works brilliantly. Take about 40mins before warmup.

But the long term answer usually involves massaging tension/knots out of the muscles in the calves and also along the shin bone.

You would benefit greatly by getting away from impact training, such as running & bounding, until the soreness goes. As recommended earlier, switch to deepwater sprinting or gymnastics or medball or weightlifting or bridging routines for your core…that’s all time very well spent which can supplement (and temporarily substitute for) your preparation until you are fit to return to the track.

Depending on how bad they are, you might want to just hit the weights for awhile and use the pool. If they’re real bad, I wouldn’t run much at all (other than warmup type stuff). You may lose some endurance capabilities but doing some concentrated serious strength work never hurts. Other than that, I agree with what the others have said.

you may want to ask stefanie- she found ways to train alternatively and PRed at the end of the season, working around a debilitating shin injury.

Here I have a cut and paste of a response I gave to someone (Stefanie, as a matter of fact) a couple months ago about shin splints. One of the key things for me with shin splints is to avoid track work. If at all possible, do as much work as you can on a grass field instead of the track, including speed work. Once you’ve developed a tolerance and the shin splints start to go away, start adding in one session on the track a week, then later make it two a week, and finally work your way up to three track sessions a week.

I’ve had really bad shin splints all year (since the end of January), and although I dont really notice any swelling at the moment, they are really tender to the touch (not good when you’re hurdling) and when I run my finger along them it seems that they’re are ridges, or bumps, along the shin.

A couple things that have really helped me are heating and stretching. It seems like you do a lot of icing, which is good after workouts and at home, but heating helps with the pain. Generally, I’ll either heat my shins with a heat pad or in the hot whirpool (when the trainer lets me) for 15 minutes before warming up. Then as part of my warm-up I pay extra attention to stretching my calves. Then after the work I walk 2 laps around the track barefoot, walking on your toes every once in a while throughout the two laps. Then I stretch my calves some more and then ice.

Another thing I get done sometimes is to get my shins taped. It doesnt treat the actual shin splints, but it lessens the pain during the workout. If there’s a trainer at your school, he/she should know how to do it. If not, just ask and I’ll try to describe it so you could try it yourself.

Finally, I don’t know how you’ve been icing, but the one other thing I do is this: get a paper cup, fill it with water, and stick it in the freezer. Once the water is frozen take the cup out of the freezer and cut off the paper part of it so you’re left with a big cylindrical ice thinger. Then go somewhere where you can spill water (like the porch steps, or on a towel inside) and rub the ice up and down along your shin. After a while, it starts to form to your shin and you can really start to dig in with the piece of ice. That really helped me cuz it’s like a massage and an icing session at the same time. Do this until the ice melts, one session a night, and I think it’ll go along way in relieving some of your pain.

A couple other random things about shins before I end this whole thing. When you do make it out to run, see if you can find a grassy area (like a football or soccer field, the outfield on a baseball diamond, a park) to do your workouts. I find it’s much easier on my shins then the track is. Also, make sure that once you’re done with the prescribed distance for the run that you decelerate slowly. For me at least, the most painful part of the run is the slowing down after it’s done. I take at least 30m to stop now, just gradually slowing down to prevent too much stress on the lower leg area. Then finally, if you can’t make it out to the track cuz of the pain, just substitute with a bike session or a session in the pool if you have access. It’s better than doing nothing at all.

If you’re already doing any of the things I mentioned, I apologize in advance for repeating it again, but I just wanted to cover all the bases.

I know shin splints really suck, so good luck and hope you get better soon. Any questions about that kind of stuff, just ask and I’ll try and help you out.

Do you know if they’d hinder your performance noticeably. Because during my school year I was running 11.8s and 24.0-2s and now it seems just in the past week and a half my times have gone down to 11.6 and 23.7

Thanks Guys,
All that info is really helpful. Do any of you know where I can find a deep water sprinting workout?

CaptinPain, I dont know if the shin splints actually hinder your performance, but the mental aspect of not feeling completely pain free and ready to run may have been a factor.

Shanco, I dont think deep water sprinting workouts are the way to go. I know that there is some stuff in “The Science of Hurdling and Speed” by Brett MacFarlane if you want to look there, though. I was thinking more along the lines of pool tempo workouts and stuff to just stay in shape and conditioned. There are plenty of topics on that if you use the “search” function I believe.

I don’t know about the pool sprinting workout but CF has written here about substituting tempo runs with pool work running in place for bouts of 45 seconds and resting 15 seconds between reps. It’s probably somewhere here on the site. Really alleviates the pounding on your legs that tempo running could give-if injured that is.

Cool thanks guys you’ve been a great help once again, I really appreciate it.

I have had great success overcoming shin spints by using a DARD and massage. No ice, no NSAIDs, but you have to get to work on it before you have significant inflamation.

You can see a DARD here:


Note that this is one of many places that this device is available. I don’t have any personal experience with this company…I just did a quick Google search on “DARD”

As soon as I start to feel any twinges of pain in my shins, I do a few sets of 12 - 15 with this for the next few days and self massage every evening.

Self massage for the shins is quite easy to do, works wonders and best of all is free! Start towards your feet and work up to the knee. Try:

  1. Pinch the shin bone between your thumb and fingers, thumb on the inside - right along the bone. Slide up towards the knee.
  2. Same hand position, this time as you slide up, make little circles with your fingers.
  3. Same hand postion, make little circles with your thmbs.
  4. Hand on the back of your calf, thumb to the outside, slide up with the same movements as 1, 2, and 3.
  5. Both hands grasping your shin, make like you are ‘wringing’ out a towel as you travel up.

Hope this helps!

Shin splints are almost definitely caused by bad sprinting form.

If you are an elite sprinter and you are getting them of course it is more of an overuse injury.

But for anything but advanced sprinters I would say 90% of the time its your technique.

And it may also be that you are too heavy, too much body fat.

You may have started sprinting training without a Foundational training phase also, which would lead to poor form.

If you don’t let them heal and figure out what is going, and correct the problem, you might get stress fractures. I had those and they are a nightmare. Took about 2 years off my career. I know how frustrating this can be!

I had this problem last november and kept running and ended up getting a stress fracture in my left foot (navicular bone) the worst, due to little blood flow, and was in a cast non-weight bearing for 6weeks. I would suggest getting a podiatrist to examine your feet as i did once i had my cast removed. I had some soft orthotics made up and they have made a world of difference. The last thing you want is to have 6mth off the sport u love like i did. I still feel the pain a little but the inserts have definitiely worked. good luck

Pool work could supplement all your tempo runs and reduce impact on the ground and hopfully the problem tapers off