If you’re a runner, chances are you’ve experienced shin splints. Healthline.com describes shin splints as pain felt across the front of your lower leg (shinbone).
“The pain associated with shin splints results from excessive amounts of force on the shin bone and the tissues attaching the shin bone to the muscles surrounding it. The excessive force causes the muscles to swell and increases the pressure against the bone, leading to pain and inflammation.
If you’re just getting back into the swing of running or you are changing up your routine with speed work, strides, or trails, you’ll like experience this very common injury. Your body is very efficient, if you aren’t doing exercise or changing up your routine to stimulate tissue it will see no reason to keep what you aren’t using (bone density, muscle, aerobic capacity). The key to getting through this injury is not a quick one, I don’t suggest anyone stick to the “No pain, no gain” mantra here, that will only lead to more pain and possibly a more serious, and debilitating injury. So don’t go and chug a bottle of ibuprofen and try to do your tempo run if you’re in pain. Your body just needs time to adapt and build up the tissue that you’ve given stimulus to.
STRETCH IT OUT
In the image above I show you a great stretch for you anterior tibialis muscle. This muscle gets used quite a bit in running but we never really exercise it intentionally. Ankle curls anyone? Hold this stretch for 10 seconds, let the stretch reflex dull, then lean further back to get a little more stretch. Hold for 20 more seconds and relax. Get up slowly from this. Incorporate this into your post run cool down stretch and your shin muscles will get noticeably more flexible in a short amount of time.
Also remember to treat immediate pain with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate). If you can get your hands on a 55 gallon drum, or trashcan, and a truckload of ice, then jump into that right after a run! Those logistics are difficult to workout but hugely beneficial if you can make it happen.
Time, patience, and ease are what you need to get through this and many other repetitive-stress injuries. You don’t have to stop running, but you should be running at no more than a conversational, or nasal breathing pace. Plus, this will help you build up your aerobic base! We may be “born to run” but it takes some upkeep and patience to build our bodies up to handle the task.