Shin splints, after all this time?

I've started experiencing really painful lower leg pain over the last few weeks, shin splints I believe. I've no idea why, but it's crippling my running now. Today I set off for a 10k trot and got 3k in to it with lap times at 4mins 30secs, it was going well for me. Then the leg pain started. I was on the flat too. This continued for the next 7k where I actually slowed to walking a couple of times. Laps came down to 5mins 30secs and the pain got really quite uncomfortable.

I've been running for over a year and have clocked up some decent distances and times (5k in a tad under 22 mins, half marathon in 1h 42mins). I'm 43 years old and 10 and a half stone, so Im not carrying any excess weight but perhaps don't recover like younger runners. However, I don't have any aches or pains following exercise, which I indulge in most days and include running, swimming, the bike and gym/weight sessions. I run around 3 times a week, both on road and off. My footwear varies to suit the run, and I've actually replaced my old New Balance with a new set of Asics Gel Cumulous runners in an attempt to some the pain, which hasn't worked.

I thought the Xmas break from the gym (which includes some skipping, which I suspected May be the cause) might help, but it's made no difference.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



  • I'm replying as I'm just getting back from shin splints myself.

    The obvious culprit would be the skipping, especially if you're a heel sticker and you're then bouncing on the ball of your foot. The floor of the gym can also be a factor. A sprung dance floor is going to give you more cushioning than concrete. 

    Assuming you're still sore even when walking, I'd stay off the running and also avoid any weight exercise that puts undue strain on your shins. It's taken me about 2 months to get back into minimal running. 

    As for suggestions, if you haven't already (and I'm no physio):

    Get fitted for new running shows in a proper running shop. You don't say if you did this to get your new pair.

    Massage your shins whenever you can. If you've got any muscley niggles, you want to work on the area. I've just used my fingers. You can use a tennis ball or one of those massage sticks.

    Icing is good. A couple of times a day for 5-10 mins. Reduces any inflammation.

    If you're experiencing pain even when walking, you might want to try an ibuprofen gel if you're not allergic. 

    I'd then treat your shins like royalty. Don't run, don't go on any 10 mile hikes. Once they're settled, then I'd walk longer and faster just casually. Then, and only then, would I try 1 min run, 1 min walk for say 10 mins. If okay, slowly build back up. If you have any discomfort still, get back to icing, massage and rest. 

    If it takes more than a couple of months and hasn't settled, get to a recommended physio. 

  • If it takes more then a couple of months go to a Doctor, not a physio and get referred to an orthopaedic lower limb specialist.  It could be a stress fracture, something that is beyond a physio's ability to diagnose and treat.

  • Thanks for the replies Thinks and Surrey. 

    I was conscious of writing an essay and managed to omit some important information.

    I experience no pain following the run, nto afterwards or the next day. It's instantly gone when I stop running. If I prod, rub or massage the shins they are fine. The only time I get pain is during the run.

    I had had a full fitting session at Sweatshop, so I am confident it isn't the new footwear  (I also experience it on my older sets of runners). 

    I haven't skipped for around 10 days, so would think I have recovered from any gym sessions. 

    I have been running pain-free for around 8 months. I enjoy running both road and rough trails, wearing 'conventional' cushioned footwear, and also minimal shoes too. I own two pairs of *cough* VFFs, and used one pair extensively during the warmer months (the second pair I won and is used solely in the gym). I did build up to running in the 5s, to the point where I could easily run for an hour and a half. the following day I would experience tired calf muscles, but no pain. I haven't run in these for some months now though as it's just too cold for this type of shoe. in fact, the only reason I am mentioning them is to demonstrate that my legs are robust enough to cope with varying footwear, distances and surfaces.

    I am actually starting to wonder if it's just the cold weather that is tightening my shins.

  • Could it, at least in part, be that you're training a bit too hard/fast? My 5k pb is similar to yours (21:01), and my standard pace for a 10k training run would be about 5:30 min/km. I definitely wouldn't be knocking out 4:30s, that's very close to my tempo pace.

  • Thanks Jim.

    Thats possible, although I have eased up since the weather turned from Autumn somewhat anyway and distances are slightly shorter. However, I have changed gyms so I can now swim as well as hit some weights, and I suppose new machines could be the answer. But I just haven't been in the gym much over the last few weeks, and would have thought my recent lower leg pains would have eased as a result.

    Perhaps I need to just slow right up on the running to find out if it is overtraining. Not sure how my mind/body will cope eith that though ....

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