Shin Splints Stink.

Good morning! Smile

Today I thought I’d talk about shin splints.  I’ve written about my problems with shin splints plenty of times in the blog (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, and Exhibit C, just as some examples!).  I’ve read many articles on shin splints, gotten advice from all of you, and gotten lots of advice from an athletic trainer friend.  So today, I thought I’d bring all of that advice together into one post!

First of all, what are shin splints?

Webmd puts it like this:

“Shin splints aren’t really a single medical condition. Instead, they’re just a symptom of an underlying problem. They might be caused by:

  • Irritated and swollen muscles, often caused by overuse.
  • Stress fractures, which are tiny, hairline breaks in the lower leg bones.
  • Overpronation or ”flat feet” — when the impact of a step causes the arch of your foot to collapse, stretching the muscles and tendons.”

And P.S. They’re painful.  Really painful.

So how do you help fix them?

1. Start a good stretching program.

Make sure you’re stretching your calves really well, because tight calves can also have a negative affect on your shins.

Some stretches I do:


You want to keep your back heel on the ground during this stretch.  First keep the back leg straight and stretch for 10 seconds, then bend the back leg slightly and stretch for 10 seconds.  You can also do “wall push-ups” while in this position to feel a nice stretch.

calf stretch


Cheesy picture, but you get the idea.  Put your toes on the wall, keep your heel on the floor, and bend your body slightly toward the wall, to feel a good stretch.  Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg.

- Another thing you can do it walk around your house on your tip-toes for a minute, then walk around on your heels for another minute.  These exercises strengthen your calves and shins.

- Alyssa at Life of Blyss posted a great video a while ago about stretching shins.  I’ve been using her ideas recently, and I really like them.  Check out the video!

- If you have a foam roller, you can also use it to help massage your calves.


2. Make sure you have the right shoes.

This one seems like a given, but I’m saying it anyways.  If you can, go to a running shoe store that has trained professionals who can help you pick out the right shoe for you!


And while you’re at it, consider getting inserts.  Yes, they’re more money, but if they’re going to help prevent injuries, I think they’re worth it!


3. Ice your shins.

My trainer friend has started having my ice both before and after my runs.  He even said to ice on days that I wasn’t running, because I was having so many problems with shin splints.  Honestly, I’m bad about being consistent with this.  But every article you read talks about the importance of icing, so you should probably do it!


I have found that the best way to ice my legs is filling a Styrofoam cup with water and sticking it in the freezer.  Then I peel away the Styrofoam and rub the ice directly on my shins for about 10-15 minutes.

4. Use compression gear.


I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know all the technical reasons for why this stuff works.  But wearing the compression sleeves after a long run does something to help with circulation.  If you’re interested in the compression sleeves, I would recommend doing a little more research on your own before purchasing them.  Smile

5. Elevate your shins.

Elevating helps to reduce swelling.  Plus, this is the perfect excuse to be lazy and sit in front of the TV for a couple of hours. Winking smile 

6. Run somewhere new.

suwannee creek

Recently I was running in a park on a trail made of asphalt.  My shins were really hurting.  So I switched over to another trail made with dirt.  Pretty quickly, my shin pain went away.

I can’t say it will be this “magical” every time, but I do think where you run matters.  Sidewalks made of concrete are usually the toughest on your shins.  Asphalt roads are a little better, and running on a track (often made out of rubber) can be even better. 

So if you have the option, try to switch up your running routine by finding a new location to run … a hiking path, the treadmill, your local high school track, etc.  Not only will it help beat boredom, but it could also give your legs the break they need!

7. Rest.

Yeah, I know this one will be tough for a lot of people.  But rest really is key when it comes to shin splints.  I took about 3 weeks off from running back in January because of my shin splints, and honestly, I don’t think it was enough.  I should have waited even longer.  But I was just soooo worried about training for my half-marathon in April, that I just had to start running again.  And guess what?  The shin pain continued. Annoyed

So do yourself a favor and give your body the rest it needs.  Do cross-training … use an exercise bike, go swimming, lift weights, etc.  But take a break from running for a little while, and your body will thank you for it!


So there you have it.  Shin splint 101. Smile with tongue out 

Just to be clear, I’m not a doctor or any type of expert in this field.  I’m just sharing advice I’ve received and strategies that work for me.  I hope some of you find them helpful, as well!


Question for ya …

Any other advice on shin splints?

Ever had any running injuries?  Or other fitness-related injuries?

What did everyone do this weekend??

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25 Responses to Shin Splints Stink.

  1. Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean

    love that styrofoam cup trick!
    Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean recently posted..A Trip to the Arnold & A Fitfluential ChallengeMy Profile

  2. natalie @ southern fit foodie

    My mom used to have really bad shin splints (even when she was only walking) – I’m not exactly sure how she got rid of them, but she doesn’t have them anymore. I’ll ask her. :)

    Thanks for all the info! I hope you have an awesome Monday!
    natalie @ southern fit foodie recently posted..Chobani Giveaway!!!!!My Profile

  3. Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries

    great words of wisdom girl! i had shin splints pretty bad back in high school, and all the things you mentioned helped me. freezing water in a paper cup and then rubbing it on my shins helped a ton. i think the proper footwear and stretching is crucial too! i hope your shins give you a break soon! ;)
    Ashley @ My Food ‘N’ Fitness Diaries recently posted..Some Cool Stuff!My Profile

  4. Michelle @ Our Dream, Made Out of Real Things

    I always encourage people to get custom made orthotics for their athletic shoes. The store-bought inserts are nice, but my podiatrist told me that they end up taking pressure off of your feet and shins and actually are worse for your knees. I have custom made inserts that I absolutely HAVE to have in my running shoes, especially since I have tendonitis in my left foot. I NEVER feel any pain with them in!
    Michelle @ Our Dream, Made Out of Real Things recently posted..LuckyMy Profile

  5. Katie @ Faith & Funfetti

    I have a lot of problems with my shin splints as well, its awful! Training for this Nashville half has made them worse as I am trying to run on more hills and going downhill is very unpleasant. Have you found this to be true?
    Katie @ Faith & Funfetti recently posted..Pancakes & Lunchbox Runs 27.2 Without TrainingMy Profile

    • notsodomesticated

      Yep, I’m with you, Katie. And downhill also seems to affect my knees. I’m really trying to be careful not to go too fast down those hills. But I do like that I actually get some hill-training here in Atlanta! In Ohio, it was completely flat, which made it tough to train for Nashville! :)

  6. Theresa

    foam rolling is both my friend and my hurts but i know it works wonders ;)

    i’ve struggled with plantar fasciitis for almost a year now…it doesnt hinder my running, but it does make for pain afterwards. I NEED to be more diligent about icing and rolling :(
    Theresa recently posted..New Additions to the family and BirthdaysMy Profile

  7. Alyssa @ fit and fun in third

    I used to get shin splints all the time, and after seeing a doctor and having him explain the correct way to stretch, they are totally gone! Such a simple fix!
    Alyssa @ fit and fun in third recently posted..Shamrocks and PizzaMy Profile

    • notsodomesticated

      Do you have other stretching tips?? I’d love to hear them if you do! :)

  8. Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health

    Ugh, I can only imagine how much shin splints suck. I have a feeling that if I ran more I would get them because my feet are pretty flat and I know I scrunch my toes when I run- probably not a good thing haha.
    Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health recently posted..Bench DipsMy Profile

    • notsodomesticated

      I sometimes scrunch, too, but I have higher arches. Weird! :)

  9. Faith @ For the Health of It

    It’s been a while since I got shin splints – knock on wood – but these tips are great to have on hand in case I encounter them again in my running future!

  10. Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes

    Great tips for shin splints!¬
    Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes recently posted..Body FabulousMy Profile

  11. Cinnamon @ eatpraytri

    I used to deal with shin pain quite a bit, but inserts seemed to help me almost instantly. But now that I have new shoes, the pain is back!! Gotta do something about that. I also need to get better about icing. I always want to but finding the time sometimes is the hard part. If only there were 30 hours in a day! ;-)
    Cinnamon @ eatpraytri recently posted..Yogurtland fail, golf win and GUACAMOLEMy Profile

  12. Carrie Purchase @MyHealthyAddictions

    Ah, good old shin splints. I get them very easily- which I dont like at all! I recently just started playing soccer again and I had them sooo bad after my first game. I always try to ice them and stretch really well.
    Carrie Purchase @MyHealthyAddictions recently posted..Sunday RecapMy Profile

  13. Baking Serendipity

    Ugh, shin splints. As a runner, these are my worst fear and biggest pain. I haven’t tried compression sleeves before, but it’s definitely something I’ve got in the back of my mind!
    Baking Serendipity recently posted..Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Doughnuts with Chocolate Ganache and Cookie Dough CrumbleMy Profile

  14. Megan @ Megan's Munchies

    Thank you so much for this! I needed this for both my sister and I.

  15. Stefanie @TheNewHealthy

    Great tips! It’s been a while since I suffered from shin splints, but I remember it was painful! I’ve heard that running/walking backwards can help as well.
    Stefanie @TheNewHealthy recently posted..Totally Random Tuesday TwoMy Profile

    • notsodomesticated

      Oh that’s a cool tip! Thanks! :)

  16. Mattie @ Comfy and Confident

    I dont get shin splints but I do have knee pain and this tips apply to this as well. I find that the right shoes are very important even if it means spending a little extra on them.
    Mattie @ Comfy and Confident recently posted..Live Your LifeMy Profile

  17. Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy

    I know this post is old, but I remembered you talking about it, and had to come back to it. I am currently suffering from very painful shin splints. I’m so frustrated because I’m supposed to be running a half marathon in November! I’m icing everyday and I have a pair of compression sleeves on their way from Amazon. The hardest part is going to be resting!
    Emily @ Perfection Isn’t Happy recently posted..My New and Improved “Grown-Up” BlogMy Profile

    • notsodomesticated

      If the half isn’t until November, my recommendation is to take 3-4 weeks off completely. During that time, if you can (not sure if you have access or not) just focus on swimming and maybe spinning as long as nothing hurts. Those 2 things will keep your endurance up, without adding strain to your shins. And make sure you have good shoes and possibly insoles, because that really helped me.

      Sending hugs your way. Believe me, I sympathize!!

  18. Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy

    Thanks, Kristen!
    Emily @ Perfection Isn’t Happy recently posted..My New and Improved “Grown-Up” BlogMy Profile

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