Shin Splints can be a real problem for people both new to running, and those who’ve been running for a while. Changes in terrain and volume can both be contributory factors, but there’s a few things that most runners believe when it comes to shin splints, that are actually keeping them in pain:
Myth #1: Running will help
The reason people believe this is because, although they have pain when they start running, as they get warm, the pain goes away, so they believe that if they run through the pain, then eventually it will stop hurting and the problem will go away. But that’s not helping at all, because during exercise, the body produces natural painkillers, so what’s actually happening is that those painkillers are disguising the pain while you run.
When you stop running the muscles tighten up a little bit more, which actually makes your shin splints issue worse.
Myth #2: Strengthening your calves will help
I’m not suggesting that strengthening your calves won’t help at all but there’s just a little caveat that we need to go through before we start to go into strengthening your calves.
Before we dive into dealing with a STRENGTH imbalance, we need to deal with the LENGTH imbalance. When your muscles are too short in some places and they’re too long in other places it creates a loss of function. Until we take away the tightness that’s creating the function restriction, the strength will feel like it’s not there. That’s why people perceive these muscles as being “weak” and believe they need to strengthen those muscles first. When we remove the restrictions, the joints become more open, the LENGTH balance in, and function of, the muscles is restored and so is much of the strength. Once this function and strength is restored, then we can add the strength training in if we need to.
A popular way to strengthen the calves is to perform calf raises, but if we get into this too soon, this action can make the shin splints worse, due to the increased strain on the shin when the heel is below the toes.
Myth #3: I cannot contribute to the treatment of my shin splints problem
When people believe this, they leave all the treatment to someone else, which massively increases recovery time and cost.
Now, that’s not to say that a professional shouldn’t get involved. They absolutely should because you are in pain. But without any information to go on, the professional must work all your symptoms and restrictions out themselves, which takes time.
It would be the same if you went to your doctor straight away when you got a cough or a cold. If you go to the GP and you say, “I started sneezing yesterday”, then the response is likely to be “go away, take these paracetamols (or whatever) come back if it’s still a problem”, because the GP has hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of options that the issue could be.
But if you went to your doctor and said “I’ve had a cough for a week, it’s dry and I’ve tried x, y, z remedies” then the doctor can immediately start eliminating potential diagnoses based on your symptoms and attempted remedies. This leads to a much faster and more accurate diagnosis.
It’s exactly the same when you go to a movement professional or a physio. If you say, “I have a minor pain here” and that’s it, then it’s down to the professional to try and find what the problem is. But if you can go to that professional and say, “I have this pain, it hurts when I do this. I’ve tried doing this, I’ve tried doing that. It seems to me like my body is stuck here. It’s not moving very well like this”, that’s lots of information that the professional can use to fast track that diagnosis and fast track your recovery.
And there’s LOADS of things you can do to help with your shin splints problem, that won’t irritate it at all and won’t cause you any pain.
I’ve put together 5 FREE Foot & Ankle Pain videos that you can access immediately help you discover more about your particular issue, and if you need to, you can then pass all of that information on to a professional, for symptoms that are still hanging around. Shin splints can be quite a complicated issue. It’s not generally just your ankle that’s the problem so we need to look at lots of different places in your body to try and investigate where this problem is actually coming from rather than just dealing with the symptom itself. If we just deal with the symptom itself, your shin splints problem will keep coming back.
So, go ahead, check out my 5 FREE Foot & Ankle Pain Videos right now and get started fast tracking your recovery!