Shin Splints are a runner’s worst nightmare.
We try to stay away from them as much as possible and do everything in our power to keep them from happening.
Shin Splints (aka Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome or MTSS) are pain caused by overuse along the shinbone, which is the large front bone in the lower leg. There are more than 3 million cases per year of which, most of the cases are runners. In most runners, it occurs below the knee either on the front outside part of the leg (anterior shin splints) or the inside of the leg (medial shin splints). This occurs whenever beginning runners who do not build their mileage gradually enough or seasoned runners, like me, who abruptly change their workout regimen. (I suddenly adds too much mileage or switching from running on flat surfaces to hills.)
I’ve been experiencing shin splints, along with other problems, ever since I started running. They hurt like crazy. People who don’t run don’t really understand the pain that comes from them, even if we’re just walking around. For me, the pain is either very little or significantly bad.– there’s no in-between. There isn’t a treatment or cure for them because they are technically micro tears in your leg muscle. All you can do is try to decrease the pain.
My coach always tells us that it is important to stretch after every single run, even if it’s only for a mile or so. I never really listened to him until I started experiencing shin splints. The pain level went from a 9 down to a 3. It was one of the greatest pieces of advice I have ever been given about running.
So stretching helps a significant amount. Taking hot showers or baths with help relax your muscles and throwing a little epsom salt in with your bath will help, too. After running, always go on a “cool down.” These are 5-10 minute runs that are slow and relaxed. They give your muscles time to relax as well.
I also have compression socks for my shins and calves to help with blood circulation in my legs. Switching back and forth from heat to ice on your legs is also a good thing to do. Additionally, using the right running shoes and making sure that your feet have enough support while running.
The first time you experience shin splints, it will feel like the end of the world if you don’t know how to deal with them. In a way, there is a good thing that comes out of getting shin splints all the time. Once you know what they feel like, you will know how to deal with them a push through them while running.
One thing I’ve learned from dealing with them is that no matter how bad they are, you can get through it. Perseverance teaches you not to give up and to tolerate the pain and realize that you can do it. It is honestly a confidence booster for me because it makes me realize that I can deal with the pain and push to do my best.
“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice that gift.” – Steve Prefontaine