Splin Shints!

I'm annoyed. 3 weeks of running 30 miles a week and then I have to have 2 weeks off running completely because of serious shin pain...

My book says that I've got bad technique. My running shop says I over pronate and therefore need expensive trainers currently asics 20 series - (which I'm sceptical about as my book says flexible trainers are best). My book says that I'll always be prone to shin splints -BUT I WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH! Can I avoid them by landing on my heels?

I've been running for 15 years and it's only in the last 3 years that I've got shin splints from time to time... I want a cure... Please help. I am a stone heavier than I was but surely that's not the reason. I'm still only 12 stone which is not bad...

I want to be able to run 30 miles constantly for ever and not have to have forced lay offs. Is that too much to ask? I'll never complain about the wind and the rain again - I promise!

Any help would be gratefully received!


  • Well - I'm a forefoot runner - of sorts & I've been cured of a lifelong shin splint problem (which I had when I was 7 stone - and also 13.5stone!) during which time 3 physio's have told me never to run again - but it's not been cheap - nor easy - and along the way a lot of physio's (and the RW Doctor!!!) missed what should have been obvious signs of what was wrong.

    as well as all the obvious things (like concrete pavements/ upping mileage and especially intensity) I had various 'unique' factors causing my problems...
    Long long story - if you really want - e-mail me and I'll send you chapter and verse - but in essence my problems related to:-

    pelvic rotation causing an apparent leg length discreprancy - which meant that my right leg was effectively shorter than my left and right foot was effectively having to overpronate' as it had 'further ' to travel before hitting the ground. This caused severe pain - the muscle was tearing off the bone - on my right leg

    severe quad muscle imbalance - I have to do remedial exercises every day

    physiological problems which can cause the quad muscles to contract and not relax for weeks on end - with huge lactic acid build up - which meant the knee tracking goes out which means I alter my gait without realising it. The knee tracking goes out becos the quads stopped me having full upward (hyper) extension of the knee - not really hyper extension but up beyond the horizontal. This was responsible for 85% of the shin splints I had and once my physio sorted it - I could run up hills for the first time in my life (OK only little hills!) I have to go for treatment once every 4-6 weeks on average to sort the quads out - (he even gave me a free session today I've seen so much of him this last year!!)

    Orthotics and remedial exercises / physio have sorted me - but at times I was so desperate I used to live with taping strapped permantly round my legs (27 ft in total!)- as that helps reduce the problem - as did local magnets strategically placed.

    The only time they re-appear now is when I need to change my shoes - they don't last as long as they used to without orthotics.

    And I've done several back to back weeks of 35 miles since I was 'cured' of shin splints in June -all on roads.

    Honest - it can be sorted - but you have to find the underlying cause.

    Good Luck.

    BTW where do you live ? Salford University School of Podiatry is excellent - for video gait analysis and orthotics - if you let the students 'do' you it costs next to nothing.

  • Wow SS you make my problems look insignificant by comparison. Thanks for your excellent reply. I'm actually based in Kent so Salford's not really on my doorstep. I guess, like you say, I'll have to find the root cause but I'm slowly knocking off the possibilities - I know about the concrete and never run on concrete if possible though there are some old tarmac covered concrete surfaces around here and hard gravel/stone surfaces. I have increased mileage and intensity so that is probably a factor but I should get used to that after all - shouldn't I? I guess I should be honest in saying that money is a factor and I'm not sure I'm ready to commit significant amounts into gait analysis etc so I ought to look into a local university research environment to sort me out - though I'm still confused as to why it's a recent development and only a small part of my running career.
  • Hi Phill - I don't know why it's just come up for you - but I always used to fall apart big style once I got beyond 25 miles / week - the shins just couldn't take it. I think that was related to the quad problems - but who knows!!! Have you run at 30 miles / week before with no problems - or only just now? I found hills really made it worse.

    BTW - there's 'tarmac' and there's tarmac - eg we have lots of cycletracks up here - which are really just a coloured surface painted over tarmac - but wow - it's hard! Almost as bad as paving stones. And no - I don't think you'll ever get used to it if you've got a tendancy to shin splints!

    I think the universities offer great value ( like £35 all in!!!) - but you need to find one and act quick in getting booked in - as the students basically 'lay off' from the end of this term onwards because of exams.

    I've heard via these forums of so many people who've been fleeced for the cost of orthotics privately (in London and Middx) - and not been satisfied - I guess I was really lucky with Salford. There are also lots of different orthotics - made of lots of different materials - mine are EVA and replace the insole in my (neutral) Air Pegasus's - but I had to get them to stick on a front section (foam) because otherwise I felt every stitch in the footbed.

    Some physios / RW DR told me to use the Spenco ones - which I found useless - a) because they didn't address the leg length problem - but far worse they slipped all the time - and caused Achilles problems !!!

    Do a search on this forum under shin splints / video gait analysis - I'm sure I remember someone near Reading saying in the last couple of months that there was a local university doing podiatry.

    There's a shop in Peterborough that lots of people recommend as well - with a free video gait analysis if you buy a pair of trainers. If you're ever that way!!!!


  • too many miles too soon.

    the equation which gioves you shin splints:

    1. beginner runners are starting with very little running specific strsngth, stabillity, or tendon strength.

    2. muscl;es develop quicker than tendons

    3. tendons are more vulnerable than muscles. this is because they are the bits connecting the muscle to the bone, which, when the muscle contracts, make the bone move.

    4. they are more vulnerable because they often run between bones or through holes in bones, connecting different muscles.

    5. tendons develop slower because they have less fibers than muscles. this also means they heal slower too.

    6. tendonitis of the lower leg is common because the tendons there experience extreme pressure and stress when running. this is fine if the stress and pressure is not prolonged until the tendons have developed, but starting to exponentially increase mileage will have disasterous effects.

    basiclly what this means is that you have started running and developed muscle strength and stamina very quickl, but your tendons haven't caught up. then you feel strong enough to increase the mileage loads (probably by increasing your regular runs by around half, from say, 4miles to six miles...am i right?) and this has caused the tendons to inflame and become raw and swollen, so that, when your tendons(now all red and swollen) try to run through the bones and pull on muscles, they get even rawer and more inflamed. (N.B any ailment with "itis" on the end means "swelling of" think larangITIS). so

    so...how do you fix it????

    1. you take three or four weeks off

    2. you do some cross training in those weeks to maintain fitness (swimming is ideal for the first two weeks, then cycling the next two)

    3. you don't suddenly start into your normal mileage again immediately.

    4. you should bathe and lightly stratch regularly during the lay off period.

    5. when you do start back to running, take it fraustratingly slowly, and wear a well cushioned shoe which is suited to your gait(buy RW this month for all that kind of info)

    6. do patronisingly few miles for an excrucuatingly long time(about four weeks.)
    this means that you should not be runing more than ten/fifteen miles a week for four weeks, and you should not be blasting them.

    7. increase your mileage gradually, about 10% a week.

    and to aviod shin splints in the future??????

    1. ice your shins after hard/long/testing sessions. and especially when you come back from runs in your reintroduction period.

    2. bathe and strstch regularly(no, it's not just your mum uses the bath)!!!

    3. run on varying terrain.........road, grass and trail.

    4. DO NOT RUN ON CONCRETE TO SAVE YOUR LIFE, it will completely knacker your joints and bones.

    5. don't be afraid to take a day off,

    6. do SOME cross training.

    7. take at least one day off during the week, complete rest, mid weeks are usually best.

    listen to your body, if it says, "i'm sore, because i'm injured" then help it out.

    happy to help..

  • any mispelled word which looks like it could be stretch probably is stretch.....even if it's not, then stretch anyway!!! you can't do it enough.
  • Thanks all for your advice and support. I guess there's no quick fix and your right I did push my weekly mileage up from 15-18 to 30 very quickly and my long runs from 5 - 9. oops. Hope I can get back up there even if it is slowly.

  • you will
    print out my plan and follow it.
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