A runner holding his shin, which appears inflamed

Shin Splits

The Question

This question is from Terri, who is suffering with her shins:


“I've just started running and my shins really hurt for days after every run. Is there anything I can do? Am I cut out for running?”

Simon's Answer

Simon - running coach
Simon Loughran - Middle-distance runner and UK Athletics Coach in Running Fitness (CiRF) and Athletics Coach

“This is a very common problem for beginners. The simple answer is that you're probably doing too much too soon.

When you start running your fitness will improve quite drastically and quite rapidly. This is great news. The problem is that it takes a bit longer for your bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons to catch up.

Be patient and you will become more robust over time.

Your running form is also probably contributing to the problem. Most beginning runners overstride to some degree. Taking shorter steps can reduce the stress of impact and you should find you can go further and longer by doing this.

The key to shorter steps is to up your cadence/stride rate. Get the legs moving over quickly and try to feel nice and light on your feet. Strides are great for practising this.”

Paul's Answer

Paul - running coach
Paul - Ultra runner and endurance coach

“Let's think running shoes. How long have you had yours? One of the most common causes of injuries like this is having the incorrect shoes for you.

I'd advise going to a specialist running shop and having a gait analysis. An expert can look at things such as how your feet land and from this work out the best shoes for you. This is so worthwhile, and a good idea to do annually to make sure you are up-to-date.

Another important one is running surfaces. Do you mainly run on the road and concrete? Over time that impact of running thousands of steps on a hard surface can contribute towards causing shin splints or other injuries. I'd advise running off-road as much as possible, for example when you go running in a park don't just run on the pavement but go on the grass.

Some gentle stretching and massage will also go a long way towards relieving tightness which can contribute to soreness.”

Our Member's Answer

Jess in Brighton has suffered too.

Jess - marathon runner from Brighton

“I suffered from shin splints for months when I first started and it caused me so much stress. In the end I just cut down and did swimming on the days I coudn't run.

It's amazing because now (four years later) I regularly run 40 miles a week and don't get any pain unless I really overdo it. Stick with it and it'll all work out. In the meantime ice baths can work wonders. Oh, the relief!”

Great advice, Jess. Thanks for helping out!

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