Foot slapping and shin pain?

Hi. I started running in December and have about 280 miles around my neck. I am training for a half marathon and have go to the point where I can run 10+ miles without really struggling and don't typically do any runs below 45 mins - 1hr because I don;t feel as though I'm working overly hard. I also do one day a week of intervals (more recently hill intervals) as prescribed by my training plan from this website.

 So thats basically where I am now. When running I have always had aching pain in the front of my shins, I normally just run through it as while its not very comfortable, its not a show stopper and I really want to run! After a couple of miles it ussually eases up. Well today it ached the same way but within a mile I could feel myself slapping the floor. I have noticed this before when doing the speed intervals along a tarmac path, at the time I thought I was trying to go too fast and my legs just wouldnt carry me and its typically much better if I slow down.. Well today it made me really conscious to the point I was purposely trying to land my foot on my heal and then trying to flick off and kick my feet up higher and it all just felt a bit disheartening and odd. Its worse on flats and slight downhills, it really feels like my feet are flat and im slapping and I must be because I took my headphones off several times to see if I could hear anything different. Going uphill doesn't seem to be an issue at all?

Right now 4 hours later my shins feel 'tender' to the touch from pretty much smack in the middle on the bone half way down my leg right down to my feet. I have a feeling this tenderness never goes away.

So what is it and how do I stop it?? I set myself a goal pace of 8:30 min/miles for my marathon and whilst I can nail the distance no worries, I find all my sessions be them 5 miles or 13 miles are averaging 9:15 ish so I need to be speeding up not slowing down and now this!?

Thanks for any advice.


  • Going uphill doesn't seem to be an issue at all?

    That's probably because you're taking smaller steps and landing with the midfoot/ball of your foot under your centre of mass rather than sticking a straight leg way out in front of your body and then hearing a slap from the uncontrolled impact of the rest of your foot post heel strike which might be happening on the flat or downhill.
    Have a google of evolution or pose or chi running styles, which are all pretty much the same thing, and also have a read of this esp. the bits on running form.

    From P16
    [quote]It is important that a runner uses correct technique from the very first to the very last step
    of every run. The coach must begin teaching proper technique before any hard training is
    attempted. It is never too late to begin running correctly, no matter how long you have
    been running improperly. You can change! Running technique must be viewed as a skill
    and must be practised like any other skill until it is mastered, and becomes second nature.
    Let us start at the very beginning, with the person standing to attention in bare feet. Raise
    yourself up onto tiptoes, and overbalance forward. You must take a step forward to keep
    from falling over. From the position which results (it is impossible to step forward onto
    the heel), you should begin to run at a slow velocity - but with very light, quick steps -
    making sure to feel the stress on the toes. The runner's legs should remain flexed at the
    knees. A feeling of "sitting" with the seat down "like a duck" is employed with the body
    upright. An athlete who runs correctly will actually appear to be shorter than other
    runners of the same height who are not running properly. By keeping his knees flexed and
    by landing on the ball of the foot on each step, and with the foot beneath the body, the
    runner will spring along very quietly. As the weight of the runner's body rides over the
    foot, the entire sole will rest flat on the ground - do not remain like a ballet dancer on
    your toes throughout the weight-bearing phase[/quote]
  • Hi Ian thanks for the reply.

    I've just printed that off (its a bit hefty will have to wait until tonight!) and I'll read through it. So you think I'm running improperly and its not my shins causing this?

    I guess it could be me, I do have this thing in my head where I need to run upright and I always seem conscious of how I land almost on the edges of my feet when I start my run but forget about it as I become more tired and concentrate on just not stopping so maybe I am doing this myself?

    I just don't understand why this would of creeped all of a sudden into my normal runs. I have a Garmin 405 and use that for monitoring pace so its not like I'm not judging pace correctly and running consistantly too quickly or much of anything else has changed about my normal easy / long runs and I'm in the same shoes for the last few months .. I'll have to go out Thursday and see if it persists.

  • So you think I'm running improperly and its not my shins causing this?
    Hi, I reckon it would be presumptuous of me to say improperly, just that there maybe other ways of running that will alleviate this problem. Of course these other ways may bring their own set of challenges image
    Your shin muscles make your foot flex upwards. When you land on your heel, your foot has to rapidly flex downwards, putting a sudden eccentric load on your shin muscles and their attachment points which causes the shin pains. It could just be that these muscles have had enough or are a bit looser and your foot is meeting less resistance as it flexes downwards on impact causing it to hit the ground faster and cause the slapping noise.
  • Feet slapping on the ground and shin pain does suggest you have an issue with your anterior tibialis muscle which controls the lifting up and putting down of the foot. It is a more usual injury for race walkers, as there is far more use of the muscle in the walking stride. However soreness at the beginning of the run that then eases once warmed up suggests muscle injury rather than anything more sinister. It may be that your pain has been a gradual thing, that it is not a sudden change in any of your training, more that you have worked your muscles hard and little by little they have broken down and now are unable to cope.

    Are you a heel striker? If you were to change from heel striking to forefoot striking or mid foot striking as pose suggests, then there is no doubt there would be less pressure on the anterior tibialis, however to change your running gait would be a long slow process, and one that may cause you unforseen problems in other areas. I would suggest you try some simple strengthening exercises first before you look at a wholesale change of running style. If after 2-3 weeks of exercises nothing has changed, then look at a more drastic change.

    To strengthen the anterior tibialis:

    1. Stand feet together 6 inches from a wall resting your back on the wall. Lift your toes of one foot up keeping the heel on the ground. Repeat 10 times. Repeat for the the other foot. To extend the exercise lift both toes together, work up to 20 reps.
    2. Lunges with toes off the floor. Take a big stride forward (how far forward depends on your leg strength and balance), landing on your heel, keep as much of the ball of your feet and your toes off the floor. Repeat 10 times. Repeat for the other leg. Work up to 20 reps both sides.
    3. Wobble board exercises - they can be bought online for around £20.

    It would also be a very good idea to have a sports massage to help your sore tired muscles recover.

     What is your goal paced based on? Do you have previous races to base this figure on? 70% of your training should be at an easy conversational pace. If you only started running a few months ago and are already doing speed work as well as upping your mileage, albeit with a training plan, you might be overloading your body.

     Hope this is of some help.

  • Thanks. I will definately spend some time doing those exercises. I'm not sure where I am striking. Definately on the outside edge of my feet, but I thought quite midfoot to be honest on flat ground, although if I'm slapping I guess like you guys say I'm heel striking..
    My goal pace is simply because I wanted to pick a goal time to train towards as a goal and picked 1hr 50mins (at least under 2hrs) which meant 8:30 min/miles. I have never raced, this will be my first image) I have ran the distance in training once and did 2hrs 5mins. Nearly all my runs come in at 9:15 ish and my intervals are supposed to help increase my speed according to the plan. I do 2min / 90 secs of 7:15-7:35 and a very slow recovery x 8. Its basically the garmin enabled plan from here for a half marathon with my goal pace of 8:30 although I don't run till Sep and have been running much longer than the 12 weeks the plan is for.
    Its funny because the last two week have been steady with lots of missed runs due to me having stuff on.. Maybe like you say I'm over doing it, I do body build 3 times a week and have for a few years now (by the way I am only just 31!). It just kills me to think I won't be able to even hit 2 hours image(
  • James,

    Causes of progressive shin pain and foot slapping on one side only (weakness of the leg extensors) include:

    1. Referred pain and weakness from nerve root compromise from a prolapsed intervertabral disc
    2. Compartment syndrome
    3. Horizontal tear lateral meniscus and associated parameniscal cyst causing pressure as it pumps up on the common peroneal nerve (I had a patient with this)
    4. Peripheral neuropathy (many causea)
    5. Trauma or injury to the knee
    6. Fibula stress fracture (a bone of the lower leg)
    7. Tight socks
    8. Habitual leg crossing
    9. Pressure to the knee from positions during deep sleep

    Time to see your GP? take this list with you so your GP can think about these things when he/she makes and assessment and refers you for the relevant investigations.

    Hope this Helps.

    John Hardy

    Google: Knee Surgeon

  • Hi John,

    Its funny because I have started getting a bit of runners knee, but its only in the right leg at the mo. I never really thought to mention it as it seems so common and I just ice it and ussually its gone the next day.

    I think I'd know if I'd prolapsed a disc, my father has one and he was on crutches for months!

    Tight socks as in literally wearing tight socks?? I wear Nike compression socks with arch supports and I run in a nike compression ankle support because I sprained my right ankle and it put me out for so long I daren't risk running without wearing it anymore.. This is why I try not to google symptoms because I know I'll try and warp explainations to suit my symptoms and end up beliveing I'm on deaths door lol..

    On a happy note, I ran last night. I watched some videos on running on youtube yesterday and read some of the book from the link above, some on pose, some on barefoot running etc etc and decided to try think about my pose without obsessing on it. I took it very steady to start with rather than bouncing off at 8:00m/mi pace and I kept it around 9:30-10:00m/mi. After watching the vids I know I have allowed my hands to creep up to the point their right up to my chest, rather than around my belly and I have started to get some very slight backpain.. I think this is a result of keep reading that I need to run straight and 'tall' .. I purposefully bent my knees and slightly squatted and the most important thing I think was I leaned forward on purpose.. I think I've been straightening and straightening until I'm reaching with my feet and losing my centre of gravity and almost leaning back maybe??

    End result, I knocked out 8.76miles 9:35m/mi and I even knocked out a couple of short full blown sprints in the later stages of my run! I had the usual ache of the shins but no real pain, after 5 miles I realised I didnt even have any ache in my shins and I definately noticed by keeping my arms lower, my upper body seemed to get less tight, I barely had to shake them out at all. I made a concious decision to try and keep really loose as well. I was very happy.

    I'm curious about heel and forefoot striking still though. How do you alter this? I presume theres certain things you do whilst running to make yourself strike differently, but what?

  • Thanks for sharing such informative and helpfull thread..
  • Hope this gets through to John Hardy.

    John in your experience are runners more susceptible to common peroneal problems than non runners.

    BTW I definitely am suffering with Peripheral Neuropathy but bring to persuade my neurologist to at least talk about the possibilities of compression of peroneal nerve at head of leg around fibula tunnel. The PN may be slowing recovery but I suspect that my running has led to my foot drop. Can't enervate Hallucis Longus to let big toe at all and can barely lift top of foot.

  • ignoring the last post. but the thread title is exactly the reason I came on here today.

    Symptoms are: sort shin muscle in left leg, foot slapping on the floor when I run and lots of stumbling (and 2 falls) as my feet keep catching the ground.

    So - googling all of this leads to exertional compartment syndrome.

    Have physio booked and going to take a couple of weeks off completely. Anyone been there? Any recommendations?

  • Re: compartment syndrome - I asked my doctor about this and was told that with compartment syndrome the pain will build during exercise and then fade almost immediately when you stop exercising. Something to do with the muscle swelling due to increased blood flow and the sheath (or compartment) that surrounds the muscle not being big enough for the muscle. I have all but ruled out compartment syndrome for me because my pain is much more long term but perhaps it is different for you.
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