People often use the phrase shin splints to describe any pain below the knee and above the ankle. While it’s true that’s where shin splints occur there could be other causes that should not be rules out if you’ve have pain in the lower leg.
In this article you will find out what are the best running shoes for shin splints. Along with lots of other information to help you treat and prevent it occurring in the first place.
What Are Shin Splints
Shin splints are known in medical circles as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome. It’s a pain along one of the two bones in the lower leg called the tibia. The tibia is also known as the shin bone. The pain is commonly felt just below the knee or on the inside of the leg just below the knee.
It’s a condition that more than 10% of runners experience during their running career.
It can be an inflammation of the muscles, the tendons, the localised bone tissues, all three or a combination there of.
What Causes Shin Splints
Running by its nature is a repetitive sport and it is this repetitive action that ultimately triggers shin splints. There may be underlaying issues that make someone more prone to getting them such as:
- The running shoes being used – I had shin splints when I started running. I bought a cheap pair of shoes as I didn’t know if it would become something I would come to love. I paid the price in the short term but I was able to fix my shin splints with a new pair of running shoes.
- Overpronation – Feet that roll inwards too much are prone to a number of potential problems including shin splints
- Feet with high arches – The pressure on feet with high arches can feel can manifest in several different ways, shin splints being one of them.
- BMI – If you are over weight you will be putting extra forces through your legs than if you have a lower BMI
- Running too far too soon when starting to run or returning to running – Not giving your body the time to catch up with what your mind wants it to do will never end well. Adhere to the 10% rule and you wont go too far wrong.
How Long Does It Take For Shin Splints To Recover
Stop running for one or two weeks. If the pain has gone try going for a short slow run and see how you get on.
If the pain hasn’t gone after two weeks or it comes straight back after a short run, go see a doctor or qualified medical professional.
What To Look For In Running Shoes for Shin Splints
The number one thing to look for in a running shoe that will help prevent shin splints is cushioning.
Secondly, stability will help ensure your feet do not get too tired.
Get the fit right, your foot should not be hanging over the side of the shoe and there should be at least a thumb width from the end of your toes to the end of the shoe.
Take a look at the recommended shoes here. Any of these would be an ideal candidate for the title ‘best running shoes for shin splints’.
How Can Shin Splints Be Prevented
Once you’ve recovered from shin splints consider the following to help prevent them coming back.
- New running shoes – Your old faithful running shoes may have been the cause of the issue if they are old, worn out or just pain inappropriate for you. If you recently changed running shoe, consider going back to a new version of your old pair.
- Sleep well – It is when we sleep that our bodies repair themselves. Get a good eight hours and you’ll be on the right path here.
- Shoe rotation – Have two or more pairs of shoes in your arsenal. Different shoes with different characteristics will load your legs and feet in different ways on different runs. The idea being the repetitive nature of running will be off-set by using your legs and feet in slightly different ways.
- Foam rolling – A foam roller is a great way to find and treat tight spots in your muscles. Used on a regular basis you get a very good picture of how your legs are doing. Zeroing in on issues before they become problems. Take a look at mechanical massage guns as well. They come with attachments that will give you a gentler massage.
- The 10% rule – Don’t increase the time or distance you run on a weekly basis by more than 10%. Theres no shame in reducing that to 5% if you are a runner of a certain age or you’re prone to picking up injuries.
- Warm up properly – I hate pre-run stretching before I go for a run. But I do jog slowly for a mile prior to picking up the pace. You wouldn’t take a cold sports car from 0 to 100 with a cold engine, it’s the same principal (not that I’m comparing myself to a sports car..).
- Strength comes first – If you’re starting running or coming back from a time away. Do a few weeks of strength training before you start to pound the streets.
- Custom orthotics – getting a custom orthotic will help alleviate issues with your feet such as over pronation or high arches.
- Alternative exercises – If you seem to get shin splints easily try cardio of a different nature. Get on a bike for a while and build up your strength while you maintain your fitness.
How Can Shin Splints Be Treated
If you can you should see a doctor early on about an xray to confirm you don’t have a fracture. You’ll know that what follows is more than likely going to fix your shin splints.
The classic RICE principal applies to shin splints
- REST – Take one to two weeks out of your training
- ICE – Reduce swelling by applying ice via a towel to the affected area
- COMPRESS – Either with compression socks, calf compression sleeves or bandages. I would wear compression socks to work when I had shin splints.
- ELEVATE – Keep the injured leg (or legs) elevated.
Reducing the inflammation with Advil may help in the early stages of the problem. Not something I would recommend but might work for you.
Should You Run If You Have Shin Splints
Theres no way to run through this injury.
If you have shin splints you need to respect the injury and give it time. During that time work out a strategy that will allow you to come back to running and be stronger and more resilient.
There are no short cuts when it comes to recovering from shin splints. Rest and recovery should become your focus.
Most cases will caught early are not serious and you will recover quickly. As ever, if you do not recover quickly, go see a doctor!