Beat the Seven Body Breakdowns

Prevent and recover from the seven most common running injuries

by Christine Aschwanden

shin splints, commin running injuries, running injury prevention, medial tibial stress syndrome
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4. Shin Splints

If you want to get technical, shin splints refers to medial tibial stress syndrome. It's a pain caused by tears in the muscles around the shin and accounts for 15 per cent of running injuries; 10 per cent of RW survey respondents have suffered in the past year.

Are you at risk?
Shin splints are common among new runners and those returning after extended layoffs. They're a sign you've done too much, too quickly, says Price. High arches or flat feet put you at extra risk, as does wearing the wrong shoes, or a pair with too many miles on the soles.

Can you run through it?
At the very first twinge, cut back to a comfortable level for a few days to a week, then slowly up your mileage using the 10 per cent rule (a maximum 10 per cent mileage increase each week). You can also bike, aqua run, and swim.

Rehab it
Rest, ice and take ibuprofen to ease the pain. Conventional wisdom has preached that calf stretching is the key to recovering from shin splints, but Price says there's little evidence it helps.

Taping your shin with Kinesio Tex tape (£12.50, can relieve pain and speed healing. See how at Wearing an Aircast ankle brace (Aircast A60, £44, throughout the day, even while running, can also speed recovery. These braces stabilise the ankle so the shin muscles don't have to work so hard, Saxena says.

Prevent a relapse
The easiest and best way to dodge shin splints is to increase mileage gradually. Saxena also recommends ensuring you're in the right shoe. Beginners, especially, can benefit from professional help at a specialist running shop.

If you have high arches, you may need a cushioned shoe. If you have flat feet, a rigid shoe might be the solution.

Elite tip

Once or twice a month, miler David Torrence cross-trains by playing football. "The lateral movement uses your muscles in a different way than when you're running forwards," he says. "It's helped me manage my shin splints." Tennis or netball would do the trick, too.

Shin signs:  How to proceed

Stop running
Tenderness down your leg, especially if you hop on it. If walking hurts, it could be a fracture.

Run with caution

Tight, aching pain when running, but eases when you stop. Hopping isn't painful.

Go run!
Completely pain-free running, even long after you stop icing and taping your shins.

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Discuss this article

Ballet foot exercises work really well for the plantar fasciitis.  They sorted my pain right out.  I have also started doing planks which seem to be helping as well.

Posted: 19/08/2011 at 22:52

They forgot the most obvious and common one. The stomach! Affects 1/3 of runners, if previous articles are to believed, and causes inescapable misery that can strike no matter how fit you are, no matter how much training you've done.

Posted: 23/08/2011 at 20:56

Great article! I have stopped running for just on 7 weeks with plantar fasciitis and am desperate to start running again, but still experiencing pain so not in the ''Go run!'' zone just yet...... Kimberlee, are ballet foot excercises just pointing and straightening your toes??

Posted: 23/08/2011 at 23:58

I have been diagnosed with Runner's Knee.  I'm finding it a long and slow rehab process.  I originally stopped running for a month (after attempting a couple of runs and being in pain throughout).  Since then the knee has got better, but it's still very painful after about 5k.  To the point that I can't actually run much further than this at the moment.

I've been given lots of physio and strengthening exercises to do.  Just feel quite depressed at the moment as nothing seems to be helping.  Maybe I want a quick fix and it's not going to be one.  I am signed up for a half marathon in October and really not sure whether to pull out.

Posted: 25/08/2011 at 12:49

Listen to your body.

If you are training for say a marathon or half marathon where the volume of training will require you to run consistently for maybe five days a week you are bound to feel tired either due to overtraining or general fatigue.

There are certain runners who feel that if they miss even a single training session then their fitness will suffer.

Wearing ill fitting shoes or running when feeling unwell due to a heavy cold or such like can result in muscle injury.

Simply over doing it and not listening to your body can result in injuries.

Check your heartrate regularly and if it's abnormally high think of some other form of excercise or even rest.

The secret to successfull running is to remain injury free and with a little sense and listening to your body injury's are not inevitable


Posted: 11/10/2011 at 16:23

what about back pain? i'm always suffering with it post-run, and have tried backward stretches lying on my tummy, but it hasn't helped. and when i lower my legs for 'that' ab exercise i get a clunking sound... i don't really have the time or inclination to start yoga...
Posted: 08/02/2012 at 11:06

Hey not sure if you still use this, but i have the same thing and feeling the exact same way, how are you getting on? did you manage to get rid of it and run your half marathon?
Posted: 22/04/2012 at 19:32

I'm always amazed by how little sports massage is cited in these articles. It's used by every Premier League football team, every professional rugby team, every top athlete and thousands of amateur sports people. It was part of the medical services team at the 2012 Games (250 therapists!) and at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. It was in greater demand from athletes than any other therapy------and yet the most common recommendation for soft tissue problems is self applied foam rolling! Yikes! 

Is there any reason your experts seem to largely ignore this key component of soft tissue prehab and rehab? For the record I come from an utterly biased standpoint as Chair of the Sports Massage Association.

Posted: 01/10/2014 at 14:22

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