Can You Still Run with Shin Splints? FAQs to Speed Your Recovery

One of the most common injuries to occur in runners;: shin splints. They can be both painful and tiresome, and if you don’t look after yourself, they can be a long-standing problem. Here’s the FAQs to answer all of your shin splint queries and worries.


What are shin splints?

Shin splints is the name used to describe pain which occurs in your shins or in the fronts and sides of your lower legs. Also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, it’s an inflammation of the tendons, muscles, and tissue around the tibia. The tendons and muscles around the shin bone become torn or weak, which causes distress and pain.


What causes shin splints?

Shin splints usually develop due to repetitive strenuous activity in the leg, which is where the muscles and tendons become overworked – it’s a repetitive strain injury, also known as an RSI. It often occurs after sudden changes in exercise such as intensity, duration, and style of exercise. This form of injury is most common in runners, especially those who train in long-distance running and short bursts of sprinting.

There are various other factors that can contribute to shin splints:

  • Exercising with worn-out or badly fitting footwear
  • Running on hard and uneven surfaces
  • Having tight calf muscles and weak ankles
  • Having flat feet


What are the symptoms of shin splints?

The main symptom of shin splints is a dull, aching pain that runs down your lower legs. There is also a chance of mild swelling in the area due to the inflammation. Other symptoms include:

  • Throbbing pain
  • Pain that starts soon after exercising
  • Localised soreness – tender to touch


How can you prevent shin splints?

One of the key ways to prevent shin splints is by easing yourself into high-impact and high-intensity exercises. Use the common 10% rule by not increasing your duration or intensity by more than 10% each week – this will help your muscles and tendons to get used to your exercise regime.

Here are some other prevention methods:

  • Wear suitable footwear and ensure your shoes are the right fit for your foot shape – thinking about high rising foot arches for proper support
  • Slowly build your fitness levels up with gradual increases in duration, frequency, and intensity
  • Develop lower-leg strength in your calf muscles and ankles
  • Start cross training – alternate the high-impact exercises you do with lower-impact activities like swimming


How to recover quickly from shin splints?

The most important part of recovery – as with any injury – is rest. It’s recommended that you stop running whilst suffering from shin splints, as continuous exercise can make them worse and you could end up with a more serious stress fracture.

Luckily, shin splints can be easily treated at home and here’s how:

  • Rest for a few weeks to give your muscles and tendons a well-earned break by following the RICE steps (rest, ice, compress, elevate). You can still stay active by doing alternative activities such as using a stationary bike
  • Make sure you’re wearing shoes with enough support
  • Wrap cold ice-packs in a towel and place them on the inflamed area to relieve the pain. Hold it in place for 10 to 20 minutes at a time

Overall, rest is the key to recovering from shin splints – it’s better to be resting for a few weeks than be out of action for a few months, right?

We hope you’re not out of action for too long and will be back on that running track in no time. Take a look at some supports and braces that will give you that extra comfort when exercising. If you have any other questions or need some more information on recovery, then get in touch with one of our experts.

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