Shin Splints - over it!
I am officially at my wit's end and not sure what to do, so hoping someone in here might be able to offer some suggestions?
First some background...
I've never been a runner, and always hated it, but last year I decided I would aim for a RunDisney event. I started off aiming for the TOT 10 miler, but after the problems I'm having with my legs, I'm now aiming for the Disneyland 10k (next year).
I started the C25K in August last year. I noticed some discomfort in my shins whenever I tried to walk fast or run, but thought it was a normal part of training so pushed through it. I made sure I always did a proper warm-up and asked around for some stretches specifically for runners, which I have done religiously after every session. After my 4km run, I had to stop because I couldn't even walk properly anymore. It had started to affect my ankles, and my joints were swollen and sore.
Fast forward more than 6 months... I've tried everything I can think of and still haven't been able to run for more than 30 seconds without getting the shin splints back again. I've just come back from an interval training session and am icing my shins while I type. I just don't know what else to do!
It's the most frustrating thing in the world feeling ready to run mentally and fitness wise, and not being able to because of my legs! Especially because I've grown to like running after having hated it for so long.
Here's what I've tried so far.
Had shoes fitted at a specialist running shoe shop
Been to physio and had massages
Done strengthening and balancing exercises
Asked my doctor
Had personal training (for technique)
Built up strength in my legs through walking
Tried running around the oval instead of on the street
I've been walking up to 10km at a leisurely pace with no problems, it's only when I try to go faster, jog, or include a decent hill that it becomes a problem. I've been doing all the right things - building up slowly, warming up and stretching religiously, and doing cross-training to help my strength and balance.
Can anyone help me?
Have you ever tried taking glucosamine? It's really great for joint health. That's what always helped me with my shin splints.
Have you tried run/walk intervals?
You're in Australia and I don't know what practicioners there can do what, but I'll do my best.
Do the osteopaths in Australia still do manipulations of joints? It might sound silly to ask, but here in America they are basically medical doctors with a different degree, and they rarely do the thing that originally separated from them western medical doctors. If they do manipulations, you could see one and see if they can help with your legs.
I mention this because as a teen I loved running and high impact aerobics and did them often. Then the shin splints started. I was having other issues, and my mom had started seeing a chiropractor, and she dragged me in. One of the things the chiro did was to adjust/manipulate my knee joint and perhaps my ankles...it's been a long time since then, I don't totally remember if she got the ankle. Immediately after, no shin splints. At all.
I know you have chiropractors there (I think there's even a school), but I don't know if they are restricted to the spine in Australia, or if they are allowed to do manipulations like that. If they are, I would recommend finding one who is good at such manipulations.
Might make all the difference. It sure did for me.
Just caught this...
"They" say now that stretching BEFORE activity like that is NOT a good thing. It doesn't help and *can* hurt. So if you're stretching before activity, you might consider stopping.
Many people will warm up, stretch a little bit, do their activity, and THEN stretch out. Seems to be more of the approved thing now. At least here.
Though come to think of it, I rarely think what we do here is the right thing anyway, so maybe that's all wrong...but I have an Exercise Science degree and never ever agreed with big long stretching before activity anyway...I was the lone wolf in my class on that, so I like that people are starting to see it my way and tend to agree with it.
Have you tried zero drop/minimalist shoes? I'm not an expert at all, but my son was having some issues with shin splints and we changed his shoes to a zero drop shoe and the shin splints went away. He got the saucony virrata. If I was at my wits end I would probably experiment with shoes and form, those 2 things might help find a solution for you.
Well for starters, I recommend getting an MRI/XRAY to find out how many fractures you have.
If you are severe you have to find out the exact cause of the condition. Right now they are guessing, which is not a good thing because you end up injuring yourself more.
Secondly after an MRI/XRAY, I would do physical therapy.
And frankly, between trainers and PT's they are not created equal. You can have a trainer, doctor, or PT place that gives you bad advice.
I am in PT now and that was after going to 3 doctors.
First and foremost, you need an MRI/XRAY to figure out how many fractures you are dealing with.
Can u tell us more about where your shins hurt? When I had shin splints inside my shins, all "professionals" tried to put me in stability shoes that had big arch plates in them because I overpronate. I went through 6 different pairs of shoes until I figured out that yes, I need a stability show but not one w a huge arch. I ended up in mizuno wave nexus and haven't had shin splints since except when I've miled out my shoes. I guess what I'm trying to say is it could be the shoes and sometimes you have to trust your own instincts.
I wear compression socks after ever run and that helps tremendously w recovery.
I also find that when I "practice" a more /forefoot strike my shins will ache a bit in front. So I generally stick w more of a gentle heel strike.
Watch your interval training. I'm not sure if you mean speed intervals or walk/run intervals but if it's speed, I'd stop those for now. Stick w a steady slow pace until you don't have that pain. Speed work can be hard on the body.
Good advice given so far.
Age related? Also analyze your stride. Might you be a heavy heal striker with too long of a stride? Many times injuries are due to improper walking/jogging/running technique.
Chi Running/Walking can be a solution. If it were not for Chi Walking, I would not be able to compete.
I tend towards injuries if I'm not careful. I had shin splints early in my training for the Princess Half last year and found three things helped tremendously:
1. Really truly starting easy. Walk a lot at a fast pace before moving in running intervals. Gradually increase the intervals OR the distance, but not both at the same time. I never run two days in a row. If you want to get some daily exercise, cross train with walking, strength training, biking, swimming, you get the picture.
2. Icing after a run if I have had any shin tenderness.
3. Compression sleeves. I don't need them now unless I'm going further than six miles, but when I was having shin pain, I'd wear them for every run. You have to make sure to get the right size (measure your calves). I use the CEP brand, but I'm sure they're all good.
It sounds like you've done 1 & 2, so you might want to give #3 a try.
And of course, it is probably a very good idea to get to a specialist doctor and beg an x-ray or MRI to rule out real injury (like stress fractures). Good luck. Injuries are so frustrating, it's tempting to just give up. I hope you find the answer and get your Disney race in!
Wow thanks so much for all the tips!
That's So Raven - I haven't tried taking glucosamine, used to give it to my arthritic horse though :rotfl: Will have to give it a go!
Ariel224 - I've been following the C25K which is based on intervals for most of the program. I even added an extra week at the beginning (which I call week 0) which is shorter running intervals and more walking... doesn't help.
bumbershoot - Good idea! I've never been to an osteopath and I don't really know anything about what they do. I have a friend who swears by them though. I've only heard of people going to a chiropractor for back/neck injuries, not sure if they do manipulation of other parts of the body. Also, I do leave the stretching until after the workout, just warm up, do the workout, then stretch.
Twoboysnmygirl - The shoes I have are only a '2' drop and fairly minimalist. I seem to be worse when I try to strike mid-foot or toe though so I'm not sure I want to go any more minimal.
The Mystery Machine - I don't think I have any actual fractures. It mainly just hurts while I'm actually running, then there's just a lingering soreness to touch. It only affected my walking that one time when I just kept training through the pain. I've tried physiotherapy, but it's tough being in a city where I don't really have many contacts, so I can't get recommendations about who's good. I do really want to find out the exact cause of the problem. But everyone I see has a different answer! Not sure who to go to next.
Figment 1990 - I get pain right down the front of my shins, in both. I feel like it gets worse when I try to strike mid-foot or toe as well, and have just been doing what feels most comfortable. I'm not working on speed yet, was just trying to get the distance first, so I'm still only on walk/jog intervals. I also went through the stability shoes with the big arch thing, and found that didn't really work for me. I'm now in more minimalist shoes, but with my orthotics for support. And I wear compression garments on my lower legs both while I'm exercising and for recovery.
John VN - I'm only 29 so age shouldn't be a problem, and I'm not carrying too much extra weight, so that shouldn't be the cause either. The personal trainer I saw tried to get me to strike mid-foot or toe, and that seemed to make it worse, so I've just gone back to running how it feels most comfortable for me, which is a light heel strike. I have been working on shortening my stride though. I can probably shorten it more, but it feels so unnatural it's pretty hard! I will have to google Chi Running/Walking.
SuperHappyFunTimes - Yes, I am already doing both those things, and the third! My mum got stress fractures when she started training too hard too fast, and I wanted to make sure I didn't do the same thing. I only train (for running) 3 times a week, with at least one day off in between. I'm thinking maybe a specialist sports medicine doctor may be the next step?
Was watching an older PBS Nova episode about people training for marathons.. One younger girl found out she was developing stress fractures causing her pain.. She was a T1 diabetic, and that was causing some of her issues.. Just dont assume you dont have any stress fractures unless you have had it eliminated by mri / xray.. Would hate to see you have these and not know and cause bad damage...
First rule of getting healed is to get a REAL diagnosis with an attempt at concrete proof.
Now maybe they are right but they are going to have to prove it.;)
Now mine is a nerve, so you can't xray that, but I did have 2 xray's from 2 different doctors.
Zanzibar, sounds like based on your replies that it COULD be related to trying the more mid-foot/forefoot strike. And possibly the 2" drop shoes. I'm not saying that either of those things is bad- they often work well. But I know from my personal experience that both of those things do cause me to have more shin pain down the front of my shins than when I wear a shoe w a bigger drop and when I do a light heel strike. Im still working on the mid foot strike but I can only do a few min of it at a time during a run.
The only last thing I can suggest is to watch some Jeff Galloway training videos on run Disney. I don't know why, but watching him made my running so much better. I learned just how much I could slow down and how much I could shorten my stride and it really made the difference for me- a person who went from never running more than .75 mile straight to running a half marathon.
Also, I know youve said you have tried different surfaces, but I seem to have the best luck when I'm injured on a track (oval). It's more stable than the road or trail. But a treadmill can work wonders when injured too for shock absorption and the ability to control your speed.
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