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Shin Splints - Is “Running Through Them” The Proper Way To Heal?

Posted Mar 22 2009 3:42pm

As I’ve slowly become a “runner” now that my weight is coming more into line, I’ve had to suffer through some pretty severe pain in more lower left left which I shall term as “shin splints” for now.  I had the shin splints so bad in January I almost wanted to die.  It was so frustrating as once I got running, the pain was manageable but when I would stop and sit for a half hour or so afterward, I literally felt like I was crippled when I tried to walk as the pain was so severe that I almost needed crutches to get around.

I tried everything including double doses of Aleve and Ibuprofen to alleviate the pain enough to get around.  The problem with that route is that you often don’t really realize how bad the pain is and if your not careful you could injure yourself more severely that you already are.  I think at one point that’s even where I was and I probably was on the verge of giving myself stress fractures which can cause more severe problems if not healed properly.

I spent alot of time perusing various websites looking for information on what to do about them.  What I found was almost as frustrating as the shin splints were themselves, and that was the fact that there is a lot of information out there that isn’t always written by people that know what they are talking about.  One example I found was a website that suggested that you need to run “flat footed” to lower the impact to your shins when you run.  I mean they actually recommended that you have to run with your entire foot contacting the ground first!  I feel bad for anyone that follows his advice as you need to have good heal to toe contact when running to reduce the impact and that is backed up over and over on the various running sites I visited.  Please take you information from “reputable” websites and organizations so you don’t cause yourself additional injury from someone just looking to fill space with “content” even if it’s bad information.

I’m not an expert and all you will receive from me in this post is what worked for me.  Everyone is unique as is your shin splint problem and what worked for me won’t necessarily work for you.  One thing I learned is to understand my personal gait.  You can go to a local running shop if you have one and they can help you with this.  I had my wife take a picture of me from behind while standing barefooted.  I am an “over pronator”.  You can also look at the way the bottom of your shoe at the wear pattern.  There are a number of sites that provide information on this topic to help you understand your gait.  This knowledge requires me to wear a good motion control and stability shoe to compensate for the way I run.  I chose an Asics Kayano Gel for myself and you will need to find the right shoe for you.  It does make a big difference in your comfort and how you run. 

Don’t skimp on your shoes!  I know good running shoes are expensive but $20 multipurpose gym shoes are not going to protect your legs and feet when you run or walk.  Buy good tools for you feet.  They are more expensive but last longer too and give you proper support.  I have also been wearing a good quality compression sock or brace during this time of healing.  I used an ACE brand medium calf support brace when I was in severe pain and now I wear a great compression sock from Zensah which I just love.  They work quite nicely for what they are designed to do.

The most important thing I think I learned and ultimately has finally helped me heal is proper stretching.  I can’t say enough about this in my case as my opinion of proper strectching was two minutes of simple stretches and off I’d go.  Was not even close to enough for me.  My muscle are so tight in their normal state that I need a very sufficient warm up time before I run.  I now stretch for anywhere from 5 to 10 mintutes depending on how tight my leg muscles feel.  I have also now stretched out my run to a 4 mile route and I walk briskly for the first mile.  This 8 - 10 minutes allows my calf muscles time to warm up sufficiently for me to have a comfortable run.  I also do a couple more stretches just after the walking portion and just before running. 

In two weeks time of doing this, I am almost pain free before, during, and after my daily run.  I can’t tell you how nice that feels when you’ve done it in pain for many, many weeks.  Take the time to stretch and properly warm up and you will thank your self if shin splints are a problem you fight with.  I just redid my diet to make the next push to my new goal of 175 lbs. and now that I can run better, I hope to add an additional mile to my daily routine over the next month to aid in my continued weight loss.

I am so much more healthy than when I started this blog and I want you to know that the sick, over weight, type II diabetic, high cholesterol, you is just “One Pound Ago” if you get going today.  You can be thinner and feel great, and I bet even get rid of most if not all of your medications as I have if you just do it today!

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