Shin splints: ‘Too much, too soon’ injury

By: Jacqueline Palfy .

hysiotherapist assisting woman in performing exercise on foam roll
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What it is: Shin splints are a classic “too much, too soon” injury, according to Brett Beil, a strength and conditioning expert with Sanford Health in Fargo, North Dakota. They are a common injury among newer runners or those who increase their mileage or intensity too quickly. They’re caused by micro tears to the anterior tibialis, and the pain can be felt on the front or on either side of your shin, especially on impact. If left untreated, the tears can turn into stress fractures.

How to prevent: First things first: Make sure you’re wearing the right shoes for you – that means shoes that cater to your gait and also that aren’t too worn out. After that, make sure you ramp up slowly, space your high-intensity workouts far enough apart and look for softer surfaces to run on.

How to treat: You’re going to have to drop your mileage, maybe completely, for a while, Beil says.

“My first line of defense is to rest from running, and that’s really hard for people to hear,” he says.

He recommends cross-training, such as pool running, to stay in shape while you heal. After that? He examines your shoes to look for wear patterns and to determine if you’re in the right kind – stability vs. neutral vs. motion control.

How long it lasts: The good news? You’ll heal. The bad news? It might take a while, especially if you’ve been running injured and making it worse. “I don’t know if there’s a timeline, but it will be a week or weeks, not days,” Beil says.

Try this: Sanford Power offers a gait analysis for about $85. It’s available to anyone, and it allows experts to use high-speed cameras to capture every move in a runner’s stride, to determine hip symmetry, pronation patterns and other issues that can contribute to injury.

Don’t let it happen again: Beil recommends any kind of strength program that includes squatting or strengthening your hips. Also, grow your mileage conservatively. And after every run? Use a foam roller or stretch and help prevent injuries.