Shin Splints

How can I change my running style

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09/10/2002 at 17:53
Hi there, ove rthe past three months I have taken up running at what I would call a dedicated level. IE I run for 30 minutes 3 or 4 times a week. I started by purchasing shoes that were specially selected for my running style but have now started suffering from shin splints and am gutted when I can't train. I guess I need to change my running style ultimately but does anybody have any sugestions for how I can try and change my style individually? And failing that, of any biomechanics in Central or south west London who I can go and see for proper advice?

Thanks in advance,

Gordon
10/10/2002 at 18:06
Gordon - I'm afraid I'm no biomechanic, but can tell you about my own experience with shin splints. When I started out running just last year I used to get them all the time. In my opinion the problem centred around my haphazard return to exercise (running) and my shoes.

I wasn't completely unfit when I started so didn't struggle too much with my lungs and I think I forced myself to do too much too soon. I basically went from zero to running 5 km 4 times a week, and while my lungs adapted quickly I think it took my bones a lot longer. Running is a serious impact on the body, and while you've been at it for 3 months now your body probably still hasn't had time to adapt.

If you have discomfort after you run use ice. If you are doing this and it's not helping ease back on the training - I know it's frustrating but you can replace sessions with cycling or rowing in the gym until your shins feel better.

The other thing you mention is shoes. When I finally got around to purchasing a decent pair the difference was amazing - I lost almost all my lower leg pain overnight. You've obviously done your homework on your shoes, but it might be worth returning to the store where you bought them and discussing the problem with the staff.

Also, do all your running on softer surfaces - the pavement gives you a real battering. When your body starts adapting to the impact you can introduce harder surfaces.

Rest assured that over time it does go away, you just need to be patient and listen to your body (don't just keep running through the pain barrier). It could be that you do need biomechanic advice, but in the short term try some of these things and see if it makes a difference.
10/10/2002 at 22:04
Gordan,

I also used to suffer very badly from shin splints and for three main reasons. First, trying to do too much too soon, so try increasing mileage at a sensible amount. Secondly,all my running was on hard road surfaces. Once recovered, I try to always run on grass, dirt track wherever possible (not always I admit. Also as Superdaz points out, the shoes are so important. I eventually had to get some insoles made for my feet and after a few weeks of no running at all (which was torture in itself), I can honestly say that I am cured (touch wood). Went ot my GP and got referred - seem the best approach.

I sympathise with you, as they are an almight pain in the shin, but sort them out soon, before they turn into something more serious.

Anyway, don't let it put you off. They are curable. Good luck, Rod
11/10/2002 at 13:27
There are some places in london you can go to. In fact I'm going to this one next week - I'll tell you what its like.

http://www.physiointhecity.com/Total-Motion-Analysis.htm
11/10/2002 at 16:06
Agree with what the others say. Shin splints are largely a result of overtraining and running on hard surfaces.

However, if you have biomechanical problems, they will hold you back and I would suggest the only way to sort this out is to visit a podiatrist, who will probably refer you for orthotics. Although expensive, this is a specific, customised treatment and saves time (and money) experimenting with shoes. I went to see a chap (Michael Chambers) at Orthosport in Marlow and he sorted me out a treat. I've had no problems since.

Good luck whatever you decide to do.

DW
11/10/2002 at 17:25
What shoes do you actually wear? Also what are your running stats - High/low arches? pronation etc?

You can try online shoe selection tools like shoe dog:

http://www.roadrunnersports.com/cgi-bin/rrs/rrs/rrShoeDog.jsp

but otherwise it really is best just to run in what feels good.
11/10/2002 at 19:18
Gordon -

I agree with a lot of the replies to your posting.

I suffered from the same sort of problem for a while when I first started running seriously, but it was cured almost immediately when I got fixed up with some 'real' shoes. I'm what is euphemistically termed a 'heavier runner' and I would probably hurt myself badly and permanently if I didn't stick to running in a well-cushioned pair of motion control type shoes.

I try to avoid running on pavements if I can, and at least one run a week is on a trail to give my shins a chance to recover from running on tarmac or cycle paths.

I also thought that I might have to visit a specialist when this happened to me, but the quickest and best (and cheapest)solution might be to get a pair of shoes that better fits the motion of your feet when you're running. A decent shop will let you run up and down with a few pairs and they should have a look at your action and be able to tell you which ones appear to best stabilise your lower legs. The difference is astounding.

Oh yeah - sitting with your legs elevated in the evenings reduces blood flow to damaged/injured areas apparently, and that works for me too.
12/10/2002 at 22:12
Take a look here :-

http://www.posetech.com/

This technique is gaining in popularity - especially in triathlon.
13/10/2002 at 22:30
Interestingly the New Balance shoes recommended on the Posetech site are down as having little forefoot cushioning on the runners world site.

I wouldn't mind trying a pair of flatter shoes because in cross country I do run more with the forefoot whereas on the road I tend to land more on the heel - although this is something I have consciously tried to move to because I thought it was the right thing to do - initially I ran more on the whole foot.

I might just give a pair of the New Balance a go and if I end up getting injured then write it off to experience and just use the shoes to knock about in.
17/10/2002 at 14:18
I am also new to running and have shin splints. I haven't trained now for nearly two weeks but they still hurt. I have got proper running shoes (from the Sweat Shop in Teddington) after having run on their magic mat type thing. At £70 a go trial and error could get quite expensive.
24/10/2002 at 14:14
I used to get really bad shin splints, and had to give up running for a while as they were getting so bad it hurt to walk.

My doctor helpfully told me "not to run", and I didn't for a couple of years.

When I started back again, I built up the distance really slowly and was fine - until my long runs got upto about 8 miles.
I tried a few things, but the best result was some new trainers (new balance 763) and a pair of sorbathane heel pads.

I have also found that doing leg strengthening exercises seems to help - guess if your quads are stronger your legs are better supported.

Also, massaging the area downwards (away from the bone) seems to ease the pain - although it can be quite tender.

Anyway.

I haven't had a problem with my shins (touch wood) for a while now.

Now I have problems with my IT band.

But that is a different story........
24/10/2002 at 23:40
I agree with tallbird that leg strengthening exercises help - but they have to specific to running. Its no good using machines in the gym.

I recommend the following exercise, both on one leg:
(1) Knee bends - stand on one leg and bend your knee 20-30 degrees and then straighten. Try to do without holding on to anything. Start off with 2-3 sets of 10 reps. When you get good do 10 reps, then without resting, do 10 reps of 10 seconds each, then again with resting reel off another 10 reps. This will leave your legs aching. When you can do this, start adding weight, dumb bells first, then bar bells, adding 5-10lb with each progression.

(2) One leg squats. With a chair at knee height, "sit down" with one leg and just touch the chair, but don't sink down. Then stand-up on that same leg. Follow Frank Horwill's Muscle Fatigue Saturation method. Do as many reps as you can, then rest for 1 minute, then again do as many as you can on the same leg, rest for a minute, then do one more set, again as many as you can. Rest for 2 minutes before doing the same for the other leg.

These exercises are tough but worth it - your legs will become really strong! And you will run faster and should help overcome knee problems.

If you try it out, let me know how you get on.


27/10/2002 at 18:26
I have too suffered/am suffering with shin splints and once agin my doctor said "rest. rest and more rest". After trying the rest theory with no joy I decided to reduce the pace to ease the impact damage on my legs. Although the pain is still there sporadically I can feel the pain easing in intensity as I am sure the bones/muscles are becoming stronger. Although rest is undoubtedly the main cure, easing the pace - but not the distance worked for me...
04/07/2003 at 14:45
It is quite reassuring to hear your comment Mike because I am suffering from shin splints at the moment and find that continuing to run but easing my pace is working for me to.
11/07/2003 at 13:48
I have been suffering from shin splints for about a year, but just on my right leg, its really fustrating because it wasnt running that caused it, it was circuit training in the gym which involved lots of jumping and pounding and I blamed my cheap trainers, I rested for a while which helped and then got into road running about 2 months ago, I have since invested in some saucony trainers and sorbathane inner soles which have helped alot, but in the last week my shin plint has come back in my right leg, I think ive been doing too much too quickly, but i dont want to stop running (now im addicted!) so i think ill try what joanne and mike suggested and ease my pace and see how it goes.
11/07/2003 at 17:29
I'm another one who's suffering with shin splints, had them quite badly 4 months ago.
I just started running once a week again over the last month and they've flared up again after a 3 mile run yesterday morning though during the run they were ok but that night & this morning they ache pretty bad.

Anyway, I'm going to do what I should have done last time and see a physio. And will no doubt be forced to rest.

Frustrating when I've purchased proper trainers, (sauconys at £70) and after a treadmill session where they analyised my apparantly unusual running action and I've been deliberately trying not to overdo it when running.

I'm also wondering whether I might have problems with my running action that might be contributing to my shinsplints but also I've noticed that I need to run at a high tempo (around 8 minute mile pace) or else my running action becomes uncoordinated and ragged. Does anyone else have this problem?

Also MarkW your exercises sound interesting I definately need to do some leg strengthening so i'll give them a go as soon as I'm allowed to.




16/07/2003 at 12:52
Often shin splints are cured by rest. However, sometimes as soon as you try to up the mileage and or intensity, they can come back. The underlying cause needs to be addressed and with shin splints there can be many causes. Your physio will be able hopefully identify the root cause and give you exercises the sort it out.

There's one other possibility, which applies to me. It may be that you ankle joint is out of alignment, that is the angle of your foot to your lower leg may be slightly off, perhaps by only a couple of degrees. In my case it was 4-5 degrees. A podiatrist can identify the problem and if appropriate make custom othortics to put in your running shoes to correct the angle. In my case this was a wedge underneath my foot.

Sorry this is just one more possibility at the causes of your problems.

Its amazing though the impact a mis-aligned foot can have to the rest of your biomechanics. For me, my right foot mis-alignment caused my left hip to go wrong and caused my left shoulder to be higher than the right, with the left trapezius noticeably over developed.

The bottom line is the shin splints can be fixed with the right specialist help and you can go on the run much better and further than you ever did before.
16/07/2003 at 13:09
I have only beein running on a treadmill since I have started having shin splints. Mine are the same they hurt after the run rather than before and only in my left leg. Its been 5 weeks since I have had it and I sometimes get like a week sensation which goes down into my ankle almost like the same feeling when you have knocked your funny bone. Does anyone else out there have similar symptoms, I am beginning to wonder whether it is shin splints now. My legs were fine until I did my first run outside and its been since that time I have had trouble. Running makes me feel so good and it uplifts me no end not to mention to health benefits. I am really determined not to give this up I will be gutted otherwise.
16/07/2003 at 13:49
Joanne

I have a preety similar thing to you except I always run outside. I got my running analysed and got the proper shoes when I first started and was fine for about 6 weeks and then increased my mileage by quite a lot. Didn't hurt at the time but my left shin has been hurting ever since and I havent run for two weeks. Mine also seems to be moving further down into the ankle. I am a bit worried about it as I really don't want to have to buy orthotics.

I also love running and feel much better about myself when I am running, and all i want to do is be able to get back to it asap!
16/07/2003 at 15:20
Joanne,
Running outside for the first time will be a big change for your legs. The uneven ground/pavement/camber/inclines/declines constantly changing will give your muscles around your shins a hard time trying to keep up. Because they're not used to it, the best thing they can do is to tighten up and this is when it hurts.

Your legs need a gentle introduction to outside running so do a very easy walk-run programme, doing a little bit more each time. Be very gentle even when you think you can do more. If you get shin pain when you get back home try massaging the painful area with an ice-cube, initial across the area and then upward movements. Press quite hard.

Gradually your legs should get used to it.
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