I remember my first track practice in high school. It was still winter, so my team ran laps on the hard cement around the school’s upper floor. The next morning, it felt like someone tore my shins out and replaced them with burning knives. I will never forget that feeling, and never run on cement again.
Shin splints can be any one of many injuries affecting the lower parts of your leg or foot. The pain can be anywhere from annoying to excruciating, causing some beginning runners to hang up their shoes for good. So how do we deal with, or better yet, avoid shin splints?
First, identify what is causing the pain. Are your running shoes from the 70′s? Do you run on hard surfaces? Are you overtraining? If so, try some of these suggestions, starting with the easiest and cheapest, until you find relief.
1. Run on softer surfaces. Trails and local running tracks can soften the impact on your heels and calves, which in turn could curtail your pain.
2. Stretch calf muscles. Often, tight calves can contribute to a myriad of running pains, so stretch two to three times per day, for about 20-30 seconds.
3. Rest. If you feel pain, rest. Running will still be there when you get back. Running with pain can create more problems, as you strain other muscles trying to compensate.
4. Exercises for your feet and lower legs. Try various exercises that strengthen the muscles around your shins, ankles and calves. This will prevent any one muscle from having to work too hard to make up for weaknesses in the surrounding muscles.
5. Lose weight. If you have weight to lose, lose it. This puts less stress on your legs, and will probably help you become a better runner, since you’re not lugging around extra pounds.
6. Buy new shoes. Worn out shoes can contribute to shin pain. Go get help from experts and find a decent running shoe. Yes, it is time to throw out those Chucks from high school.
These are suggestions. Take ‘em with a grain of salt. And above all, if the pain gets worse or occurs frequently when you are not running stop running and see a doctor. Seriously, a little break now can save you a lot of pain later.
About Ken Storen
Ken is the proudest father of the greatest little 7 year old on the planet. In order to keep up with her infinite energy, he likes to take long, slow jogs. It is the only way he can remain in shape to play hour after hour of ”Catch the Cheetah”. He also did and does a lot of other stuff.