Sep 29, 2010

How To of the Week: Prevent Shin Splints

How To of the Week: Prevent Shin Splints

Before I get started on how to get rid of shin splits, I would like to share the following video with you. This is how to not, and I repeat NOT, prevent shin splints.

One of the first things that gets brought up whenever the topic of "running" comes up is shin splints. A sample conversation that I have had on many occassions, including a couple days ago, went something like this:

Me: bla bla bla I bla bla bla ran bla bla bla marathon bla bla...
Me: Yeah man, I know, but here's how you can bla bla bla bla bla
Intrigued person: But the shin splits is like the muscle getting rippled from the bone!
Me: I hear ya bla bla bla bla bla

Shin splints is one of those unnecessary evils that haunt runners. At least it does for me. It happens randomly. There is no rhyme or reason for it. In my experience, it is a 50/50 chance that I will get shin splints on any running situation. I'm not an expert, but here is what I have discovered, and how to prevent them:

According to The Man, The Myth, The Legend, The Machine - Greg Terry...

Shin splints are a result of:

1) Your shoes are too tight
2) Your shoes are too loose

I can attest to both of these ideas. I'm lazy when it comes to putting shoes on so I always slip them on without tying and untying them when I put them on or take them off. If I run and get really bad shin splints, I will adjust the shoelaces accordingly and that normally does the trick.

Other thoughts I have:

3) Take a Tylenol or Advil an hour before you run.

I had severe shin splits during the 7th and 8th grade football days. Poppin' a few pills did the trick.

4) Stretch

There is a little debate on whether this works or not. I've ran a marathon before without stretching at all. I have also stretched before running a 3 miler and came out of it believing that stretching was the only thing that saved my leg from snapping in half. If you do choose to stretch, there are two stretches that I suggest. The first one is the girl push-up stretch. Just assume the position and flex you calves back and forth. The second is sitting on your legs and leaning back as far as you can. That's pretty much all I do. My massage therapist gave me those tips and they seem to work most of the time.\

5) Suck it up, pussy

If destiny has decided that on a particular day I am doomed with shin splints, the only thing I can do to get around it is to keep on running. The shin splints kick in about 3-5 minutes into my first mile and last until the third mile usually. After that everything is cream cheese. It sucks because I typically don't go on runs that are longer than 3 miles, but the second wind helps and if its a 5+ mile run then I am normally good to go. It's just that first 3 miles that sucks ass.

In summary. Tighten or loosen up your shoes. Take some Tylenol. Stretch. Don't be a wimp.

Hope this helps. If you still have problems, you probably need new shoes or have a stress fracture. Womp womp.