7 shin splint beating tips: I’ve just run my 400th km of 2016

Last year in June, I wrote a bye bye shin splints, just run my 500th km of 2015 blog. Well, it’s not even April 2016 and I’ve already run 400km – nearly doubling my kilometres per month.

Last year, that was a massive personal best – running short 6km and long 10km routes. Now my short runs are 8km and long 20km, and I’m running more frequently too.

Now this isn’t just a blog for a bit of showing off. As regular blog readers will know I’ve suffered from severe shin splints, and even had potential stress fractures show up on X-rays. So to be able to up my running like this has been a challenge. And I wanted to share more of my non-scientific or medical tips of things that have helped me.

While I can’t say I never have shin splints anymore, it’s much less of an issue – just occasional minor tingling rather than full blown limping agony.

I’ve worked hard to reduce the impact and the pain. Here are my key tips…

  1. Compression socks for running. I never run without these now. They’re not that pleasant but I’ve found they make a big difference. I prefer the leg sleeve variety (ie, they cover your calves but don’t go over your feet) as I’ve found the full socks were too tight on my feet and gave me cramp there.
  2. Hip strengthening exercises. Done before each run and at other times (a couple of Pilates-type moves learnt from Mrs MSE), after a physio I was seeing noted my hips weren’t engaged when running, which meant bad form. I also try to do squats too (and yes I know I should do lunges too, but not quite got to that yet).
  3. Ice packs around calves straight after running. After discovering, while running on holiday, that plunging my legs into the cold sea straight after a run provided huge relief from the shin splints, often for the rest of the day, I now have some special shin-covering ice packs that I can put on after a run.
  4. Using (arrrggghhh) a foam roller on each leg’s IT band (the ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin). (Can I say arrrrgghh again?)
  5. Magnesium supplement. Not just good for shin splints this; it helps keep all muscles relaxed and it’s made my back knots easier too. Don’t overdo it though. Take it sparingly, as it also works as a laxative (enough said) – and obviously ensure it’s suitable for you etc before you take it – I’m far from a doctor!
  6. No ‘final sprint’ at the end of each run. I used to power it for the last minute, and I think the impact of that alone was responsible for a huge chunk of splint.
  7. Special insoles fitted inside each ‘supportive’ trainer to combat over-pronation (feet rolling inward more than usual when running). The right trainers with enough bounce and support are important. I went a step further though and on the advice of a doctor got special custom-made insoles (these are not a MoneySaving option – I suspect even just any cushioning insoles will make a difference).

So overall my running spreadsheet is very happy. Last year, I managed 1,055km in the year – smashing my prior best of 698km. This year at current rate, I should break 1,500km – though my target is just 1,200km as you have to assume some time off for injuries and I don’t want to overdo it.

PS: For the uninitiated, I do of course have a table (and newly added graph) of every single run I do, and not just that – see my I love spreadsheets blog.