I started running in high school on the cross country team. I was great for the first couple years, but in year 3 I also joined the track team and developed shin splints. I didn't run my senior year because it hurt just walking.
That was about 8 years ago and, maybe once every year or so since, I try to start running again (I really enjoy it). A month or less into it, I start to get shin splints again. This past year, someone on PaleoHacks mentioned POSE/forefoot running and I thought, "Yes! That's the answer!" I have been running casually with great success for several months with no issues. Casually = very short distances, maybe once or twice a week, while walking/playing with my dog. I am still wearing regular running/cross training shoes.
Three weeks ago I started the Couch Potato to 5k program and this week I started to get shin pain during my runs. The pain does not continue once I'm done running, so I'm still optimistic at this point...perhaps it's only muscles building and not shin splints? I am running less than 2 miles 3x a week and it's a walk/jog format, so really not much running.
Does anyone have experience with shin splints, specifically with getting rid of them? I have seen posts about barefoot running helping with this sort of problem and am currently walking barefoot (not yet to the point of running). Has anyone found barefoot running to be a solution only to find that, long-term, shin splints returned?
FYI: My goal is to run 3 miles a couple times a week as a type of meditation/mood lifter. I'm not looking to run marathons.
If you're wearing running shoes, that means that you're still striking incorrectly. When jogging, you should MIDSTRIKE, which means that your forefoot hits first and then your heel VERY shortly afterward. This is physically impossible with a pair of running shoes simply because the heel would hit first with that motion (i.e., you would heelstrike).
So get a pair of Vibrams or start running barefoot, then learn to midstrike, and all your problems will be gone. You might get some soreness and stabbing pains around your foot and ankle and you might also find your calves etc lacking in endurance, but that should predictably go away each time and eventually not be an issue once you're fully adjusted to midstrike running.
You did say that you forefoot strike though, so maybe you're already well enough adjusted to this sort of movement to be fine. Either way, remember that it's PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to jog correctly with a pair of running shoes because it's PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to midstrike. Barefoot or in a pair of Vibrams: walking is heelstriking, jogging is midstriking, and sprinting is toestriking. With a pair of running shoes: there's no middle option.
Also you can compensate in the short term by doing toe raises, as I think somebody already mentioned. They will help strengthen your shin muscles and fix the problem. In fact, if all you do is run, you might have to ALWAYS do toe raises. Shin splints are partially caused by an imbalance between the calf muscle and shin muscle. The calf overpowers the shin. Doing shin raises fixes that imbalance and fixes the shin splints. Of course a lot of the problem is the heelstriking though, so just toe raises might be inadequate if you still heelstrike (which you say you don't, but some reading might).
Running shoes are so insidious because they actually make it physically impossible to run with the right form. They're self-compensators because they force you to run/jog wrong (heelstrike instead of midstrike), which causes problems, and then attempts to fix those problems by giving you "support". Just another stupid self-compensator. The modern world is mired in them. (Shampoo is another example of a self-compensator.)
Conclusion: Get a pair of Vibrams (or go barefoot) and start midstriking when you jog. Also add toe raises and see if they help.
Hi there. I definitely have experience with shin splints and I've been able to avoid them altogether by doing toe pulls for 5 minutes a day.
Have a look at this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hafXc1THHiI
For me, eliminating heel strike was what really did it for me. However, I will say that to get myself to really do it, it took getting a pair of minimalist (barefoot) shoes. With a pair of normal runningshoes, all the padding in the heel made it actually hard to get my foot in the right place without landing on the heel firtst. Now, without all that stuff in the way, my foot lands how its supposed to, and if it doesnt there is so little padding that I really feel it and change gait right away.
I used to get shin splints when I still wore running shoes and didn't pay attention to my foot strike. I tossed out the shoes for Vibrams (or barefoot) and now it's virtually impossible to heel strike. The shin splints are completely gone. I also reversed my bunion pain and sciatica and my feet are more toned and happy in general.
I ran cross country in high school and started running again two years ago.
In high school myself and another teammate were constantly in pool workouts for shin splints. I'd be fine and then would aggravate them between races and speed drills on the track, not to mention 2-a-days once the season was further along. This went on for 3 years. Painful.
Since resuming running again but in VFFs, no shin splints. Ever. And looking back on it, when we would do barefoot cool-downs in high school I always felt great.
Based on personal experience, it's all in the form and switching from heel striking.
I did run a very wet and cold race last December in regular running shoes as my feet would've been ice cubes in my fivefingers, but I paid very close attention to how I was running to avoid any possibility of shin splints.
As for treating the shin splints, rest is what worked best for me. I tried the whole making and using ice cubes in bathroom cups for those years, I never felt any relief, just cold.
I used to run about 10-11 miles per week, and when I was getting in shape and sometimes after a gap when I didn't run, I'd get shin splints.
Something that is obvious but which I overlooked is your running shoes. Once they start to get worn out, or if they weren't very good to begin with, you put more pressure on your legs. If your shoes might be worn out, get new ones. Usually when I get new shoes, I have no shin splits for at least a couple of weeks.
I don't do a lot of stretching before runs, but I do make sure the blood is flowing around my legs, especially the muscles in the front of my lower legs, i.e. near the shins. This means stretching those muscles, and then doing some jumps (jump high and bring your knees to your chest), a little bit of lateral motions. Then I run 0.25 mile at medium speed, stop for a few minutes, and then run.
Going full Paleo really helped a lot too. This helped with a variety of muscle aches, everything from shin splints to aches around my neck and shoulders, to tight hamstrings. I used to have to stretch really good once a week or so or my muscles would get all tight and cranky, but no more. I think I was suffering from some low-level inflammation from the non-Paleo diet.
I tried a natural product patch called imbue. All of the stretching and recommended exercises helped me. However, what really got rid of this pain for me and allowed me to get going was the Imbue Patch. Might be worth a try for you. They are at http://imbuebody.com/
Avoidance is key -- I didn't always stretch as often or effectively as I could and got shin splints, hurt ankles, etc. I'll throw in the only thing I don't see addressed above --Tiger Balm worked for me.
Also, admittedly counter to the barefoot people I did have to use actual running shoes (I like Asics) and because of my flat flat feet, I did better running on hard surfaces. Any time I ran over natural terrain (i.e. through parks) I suffered after, no matter what stretches or warmups.
Whatever you do, don't switch to VFF and barefoot whole hog. You need to ease into it. Form is essential for preventing injury. check out this video on the NYT featuring the author of "Born to Run" Christopher McDougall on the "100-up" technique for "foolproof running technique"
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