Help! Shin splints.
January 22, 2008 6:01 PM   Subscribe

Help, I think I'm getting shin splints!

I've started running recently, with the goal of [eventually] building up to a half marathon. I've done a few runs of about 3 miles, and I have the same problem every time.

For the first, say, mile and a half I'm feeling great, then as the run wears on I start to feel a sort of burning in my shins (and sometimes ankles). It gets worse as the run goes one. It goes away not too long after I stop running, but my shins feel kind of sore for a day or two (I'm not running every day, mainly about 3-4 times a week with cross training).

Also, today for the first time I had another problem. About 2-2 1/2 miles into my run I had this weird sensation in my foot, like something was pressing my nerve or something. It basically went away as soon as I stopped running and hasn't bothered me since, but it's a little worrying. My unofficial analysis says that I have moderately high arches and supinate (my shoes get worn along the outside edge)

A few ?s:

Am I correct in guessing that I'm developing shin splints?

If so, what should I do? I know everyone says go to a proper running store, and I'm working on that, but it's going to be very hard. I go to a college in a very rural (read 20 miles from walmart) area and I don't have a car. What other things can I do to help myself?
posted by Autarky to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I used to get those when I was playing rugby & doing a lot of medium distance running for training. In my case, they were blamed on the way my ankles allowed my feet to roll inwards a bit - not sure if that's flat-footedness? - so that the calf muscles get stretched beyond what they like, causing the tendons to get inflamed where they join the bone.

Or something like that.

It was easily corrected with orthotic soles inside my running shoes - arch support, really.

Mine were moulded by a sports therapist, but you might like to try just picking up some kind of replacement inner sole with plenty of arch support from a pharmacy or similar, give it a go & see if your shins feel any better.

PS - IANAD. Maybe your ankles roll the other way, maybe it's something else altogether. Make your own choices.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:47 PM on January 22, 2008

I had similar problems a few years ago when I was running regularly on hard ground or roads. When I consulted a physio about it they prepared some orthotic inserts for my running shoes which definitely helped prevent the problem, which for me was caused by being flat footed. Also, running on softer surfaces like grass rather than roads or footpaths did a lot to reduce the pain. The problem you've described with nerve strain in your foot is a little concerning though, for what it's worth I'd recommend seeing a physiotherapist if you can and consult them about both issues.
posted by paradigm at 7:10 PM on January 22, 2008

I've had shin splints and while the burning and soreness sound familiar, I remember them mostly as feeling bruised and that feeling getting worse when I squeezed either side of the tibia. Maybe this sounds familiar? Water jogging really helped me. In fact, my best time was after I started working out in the pool nearly exclusively. Just don't ignore it- nobody wants a stress fracture.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 7:11 PM on January 22, 2008

Best answer: If you're just getting started running, it's probably best if you start thinking about form now, because it might account, at least partially, for the pain you're experiencing. Try bringing up your knees higher, running towards the center of your body.... That's my approach anyway, but I should say here that here that by no means am I an expert on running form. There are all kinds of different theories on this stuff. I bet you can find some suitable information on the web and decide accordingly. You might even try and videotape yourself running or have a friend kinda tag along behind you as you run to observe.

If you're at a college, perhaps there's a coach / phys. ed student that might be able to help?

It's surprising how much efficiency of movement can make a difference over the miles.

Also, a change of terrain might also help alleviate the pain, get your body used to the pounding on a more forgiving surface. I know that I feel it in my shins a lot more when I'm running on the streets than when I'm on the trails.

Finally, it's always best to try and go to an actual shoe store, but baring that, there are tons of good places to order shoes online. Look for a "stability" shoe, maybe get it a half size larger than you normally would to give you a little room to bump around. It ain't ideal, but good shoes can make a big difference.
posted by ph00dz at 7:19 PM on January 22, 2008

For me, shin splints are something I get when I start running after a long hiatus, and then go away after running for a week or two. I don't do anything special to rid myself of them; sometimes their presence makes me tone it down a bit (skip a day, or run slowly or run/walk) but they leave on their own.

For your other question I have no suggestion other than to shop around for shoes that fit your feet. It's kind of an art. It took me a very long time to figure out which shoe models support/accommodate my feet best.

Running isn't the kindest thing we can do to our bodies. That said, it's also a fantastic exercise and I support your half marathon goal 100%. :) The point is just that you're bound to feel all sorts of weird stuff since you just started. If you ever do suspect an actual injury, do yourself a favor and stop running and let it heal. Running through it will only prolong the problem. Good luck!
posted by iguanapolitico at 7:25 PM on January 22, 2008

The fact that you are:
1) getting pain that subsides after you stop running (normally, shin spints hurt even after exercise, if you're walking or stretching);
2) having parasthesias (tingling, weird feelings) in your feet
makes me think you might want to get checked out for compartment syndrome. It's worth being aware of the symptoms of it, because it can cause permanent damage, and only an MD can tell you if that's what you have.

Or maybe you just have shin splints, and need better shoes.

Things to watch out for: severe pain during/after running. Tightness/swelling in the front of your leg. The tingling in your foot becoming more severe. If these happen, get to an MD right quick.

And if it is just shin splints, you might want to try resting for a few days, and then super-super-gradually (1/4 mile more per week, or so) bringing your exercise routine back to where it is now.
posted by jennyjenny at 7:39 PM on January 22, 2008

I had shin splint pains, and my podiatrist gave me an RX for some gel to help the pain. I never got it, because it was mad expensive, and I don't remember what it was called. I figured it would be cheaper to stop exercising.

On preview, this wasn't a very helpful answer.
posted by prophetsearcher at 2:24 AM on January 23, 2008

Yep, you got shin splints. It's caused by running on hard surfaces. This makes microscopic tears in the shin muscle from the jarring. It seems counter intuitive that a hard surface would effect the front of your shins, but it does.

Run on grass or soft dirt. Never run on cement or hard ground. Try to keep good running form, especially downhill, when the jarring is worst.
posted by Blingo at 2:29 AM on January 23, 2008

I had compartment syndrome, and that was burning pain/swelling in the muscles around my shins that subsided as soon as I stopped exercising. It started really mildly, but got much worse over several months (Because I wanted to play hockey anyway, I'd leave the field for five minutes when I couldn't run any more and then I could go back on for the rest of the half). The first doctor I saw said we could try tons of calf stretches and massage, but that didn't do anything and I got them operated on after about 18 months of increasingly limited exercise - apparently it may reoccur if I let the muscles in my legs waste away and then build up again, but I do roughly six months off/on a year and haven't felt anything again.

Obviously, this is a random story and YMMV and it could be anything, maybe you're just overdoing it, and chronic compartment syndrome is not (that I ever heard) going to make your leg explode - it's just going to make them hurt, and maybe cause incremental damage, but the doctors never said I had to stop exercising. If it feels like it's not 'just running pain', especially if it gets worse not better as you get fitter, I'd try and see a physio/sports med - does your college have a department in any area like that?
posted by jacalata at 3:38 AM on January 23, 2008

Best answer: I will Start will start confirming a few things
1/ You are running everyother day Distance - 3 miles.
2. You started running On about Jan, 1 2008.


1. You need to have at least 2 (TWO) pair of running shoes AND one pair of cross training shoes. Alternate the running shoes, the heavier you are and the longer you run the more important that this becomes.
2. You need to increase your running distance by No More than 10 % every 10 days. (or you will get hurt).
3. You need to untie your running shoes from the top eyelets. Leave your shoes with much more frexiblity up top it should aleveate the nerve /foot pain/numbing sensation before it gets worse. Your shoe lace is most likely causing the pain. This should take two to three days to go away.
4. Your First Mile should be 2.25 to 2.50 times slower than your fastest single mile. This is to say that if you can run 1 mile in 5 minutes your first mile should be between 11:15-12:30, if your fastest single mile is 7 minutes then the first mile of your run should be 15:45-17:30. Reasoning: It takes 10-20 minutes for the veins and arteries and arteries throughout your body to dilate in an effort to adjust and compensate for the increased demands placed upon them to supply your muscles needs when you run. ( Think about starting your cold car and immediately getting on the highway...something is going to fail)
5. Theis relates to the second statement. Stay awy from the terrible TOO's. TOO Much, TOO Soon, TOO Fast.
6. Do not try to run as fast or faster than the day before. Relax Take your time. If you are running with someone else that is faster than you or runs longer than you ask them to please slow down for the first 2 miles. If they can not then let them go ahaed on their own after all they will be running on their own after you inevitably get hurt anyway.
7. Your shins are tightening up at this point because the muscles in your shins are getting TOO tired from the rapid continuous motiions that you are putting them through, you're shins are exhausted. Massage you calf muscles in an upward motion for about 4 minutes and then your shin muscles for about three minutes in an upward motion. The pain in your shins should disappear. Until the day that you compete in your races. On these days you will Go Out TOO Fast, and the tiredness/ pain will return...
This should get you going up to the 1/2 Marathon...If its works and you need more advise feel free to ask. read as much as you can and apply what works for you...
posted by Autokeyman at 2:14 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]

« Older MARCH: Where to in the lower 48?   |   How can my dreams of being a baseball player come... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.