If you’ve never had shin splints before, that is the only word I can use to describe them. Well, to be honest, I do have a few more nouns for them, however, I shall refrain from writing and leave them to your imagination, so not to offend you, my beloved reader!
I was handed my first spell of shin splints just the other week. Don’t get me wrong, I was training hard, but never train for more than 30-40 minutes at a time, so it’s not like I was running 100’s of miles a week. In fact I very rarely run more than 10 miles a week and still hold a XX time for a 10k, but that’s a different story.
The shin splints I had felt so bad I could barely walk without wincing with every step, and that’s not me over-exaggerating. I needed help and advice on how to cure this ailment. I picked up the phone and called Matt (previously a GB runner, shin splints experiencer and quite the masseur (so I’m told)).
“Matt, I need help… Quickly!”
Matt advised on some simple techniques to reduce the pain;
This, I didn’t want to hear, I was 2 weeks away from my timed run, I didn’t want rest, I wanted to be training, getting fitter and ready for it. I’m sorry to say this Matt, but I carried on training. Although, I wasn’t running. I was utilising the gyms rowing machine. This is very low, if any, impact so allows you to carry on training. See my article ‘Want to run faster? Start rowing’
Tight calf muscles can be a contribute towards shin splints and pain. There are three stretches which did the trick for me these are;
Stair stretch; Place the ball of your foot on a stair in your house (if you live in a bungalow or a flat, be imaginative, a chair will do the job) then lower your body so that your heel ends up below the ball of your foot, hold for four seconds. This will stretch your calf and achilles. Push up as high as you can through the ball of your foot, tensing your calf. Hold for two second and repeat ten times and swap legs.
Calf stretch; I’m sure many of you reading this will be fully familiar with this stretch. Stand facing a wall and put one leg behind you. Keep this leg straight, whilst the opposite leg should be bent at the knee. Push against the wall with your hand to really stretch the calf. Hold for one minute and swap.
Achilles stretch; A slight variation to the calf stretch, carry out the same procedure but slightly bend the back leg, you should feel this stretching the bottom of the calf. Again hold for one minute on each leg.
The rolling pin;
When Matt told me to get the rolling pin out, I will admit, I was a little confused. However, the theory behind what we spoke about was actually pretty sound. Put the rolling pin on the floor and rest one calf on it, bend the opposite leg and place that foot flat on the floor next to your knee. In a fluid motion roll your calf over the pin, back and forth, it may feel uncomfortable, don’t worry its normal! Repeat on the opposite leg. This will relieve a lot of tension in the lower leg. The official, or scientific, name for this is ‘self-myofascial release’, it can be used to ease pretty much all tension in the lower half of the body depending on where you put the rolling pin! Your effectively giving yourself a massage.
I must say, I do feel that these tips helped massively. I’d be interested to see if compression socks/sleeves worked, however, I’m not keen on getting shin splints again! If you’ve used them and felt that they work feel, or if you have any other tips on how to ease the pain of shin splints, please free to add a comment in the box below, tweet me @gareth_crook or you can email me on [email protected].
Alternatively, if you’re a chronic sufferer of shin splints you may want to watch this video where Matt teaches me how to run properly and as a result increases my run rate (cadence), making me faster whilst using less effort.