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Shin Splints

stew smith

Many people email me each week and complain about pain below the knee. This is usually accompanied by starting a running program or running too much, too soon, and too fast. These pains are more than likely shin splints, but could be Compartment Syndrome or a stress fracture. This diagnosis will require a doctor's opinion and is much more serious than shin splints. But, if you can take a few days off of running and the pain is not evident while walking, it is likely shin splints. If any pain persists more than a few weeks it is advised to see a doctor as you could be doing further damage to your shins which will take several months to heal.

I get all my information about shins splints and other running injuries at On his shin splint page he states, "Decrease training immediately. Do not run if pain occurs during or following your run. Non-weight bearing exercise may be necessary. Swimming, biking, and pool running can all be used to maintain fitness." See Running with Pain Options

"While running on soft surfaces has been recommended for this problem, that is not likely to help a pure shin splint. The foot is more likely to pronate excessively on mushy grass or sand. Packed dirt is ideal, and avoidance of concrete is also helpful. In many cases shoes that are rated high for control of pronation may be helpful. Gentle posterior stretching exercises may help, but control of pronation is more directly related to the cause of this syndrome. Ice applications following running may offer some relief, but are not curative. If symptoms persist it is important to seek professional medical attention." He continues on his Shin Splint page, " The key factors to correct will be:

Tight posterior muscles
Imbalance between the posterior and anterior muscles
Running on concrete or other hard surfaces
Improper Shoes - inadequate shock protection
For more information on shin splints, stress fractures, ITB, PFS, plantar fasciitis, and many other running issues that occur see Dr. Pribut - The Running Doctor.

When starting to run again, do NOT start off where you left off. the last thing you need to do is go for a 5 mile run after a few weeks of not running. Start easy with a beginner running plan even if you can handle more intense workouts. I recommend supplementing non impact aerobics like swimming, rowing, biking, elliptical gliding with your shorter runs for the first few weeks of running again. See idea at Running Options

Learn how to foam roll as well - see Myo-facsia Release. I use the foam roller everyday to roll out the shins, IT bands, lower / upper back, as well as hips and glutes. This tool is a must have for the active person. I have discovered however, if you use a foam roller everyday that within a month, the foam has lost its hardness and is not as effective.

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