Do I have to stop running to cure shin splints? That’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run podcast.
This is a great question that somebody sent to me, actually, as a comment on one of the YouTube videos. This is someone who is a new runner, who asked,
“I just started running. I started having shin splints. Some people told me I have to stop. Some people, I don’t. What do I have to do?”
Well, that’s a great question. Obviously, if you started running, you’re starting to develop some fitness and you’re finally getting to the place where you can run consistently, the last thing you want to do is give up your running routine.
The good news is that in some cases you don’t have to stop running just because you have aching pain in your shins. You just have two figure out whether or not it is really a big problem or something that can improve with minor changes in your running routine.
Here’s a way to think about that. There are really three big things that we think of as shin splints. There’s anterior shin splints, which is where you have inflammation and irritation and muscle soreness, basically, in the tibialis anterior muscle that is the primary muscle that pulls your foot upward, like up toward your nose, like toes toward your nose or your foot towards your shin. Now, if you’re running and you’re running on a hilly course, or if you started running and you are really deconditioned, you may just have a lot of soreness in the tibialis anterior, but it’s kind of like the muscle soreness you get all over when you start any new exercise routine. Eventually, that’ll just dissipate and go away.
And in that respect, it can be self-limiting. It’s not a problem. You don’t have to stop running. But you might have something else. Maybe you have medial tibial stress syndrome. That’s generally associated with some other things, some biomechanical forces, that can be changed.
Many people who get medial tibial stress syndrome, if they shorten their stride a little bit, if they’re not landing as a heel striker quite so much, if you just increase the cadence or the turnover rate, that can make a huge difference. And that might just go away just from something as simple as that. Running in old running shoes, of course, can also contribute to that medial tibial stress syndrome as well.
What everybody really worries about though, is that you might be developing a tibial stress fracture. Obviously, if you have a crack in your shin bone, that is not good. Now, you’ve got to really think about what caused it.
If you go through the Shin Splints Masterclass for Runners that I put together, where I actually walk through all of these three different things in great detail, so you will be able to tell the difference between those three based on your story or based on your own exam, then that really might make a big difference.
But if a doctor diagnoses you with anterior tibial shin splints, you can probably just decrease your runs on the hills a little bit. You can probably just back off a little bit and have it just dissipate rapidly. But if you have one of those other two things like medial tibial stress syndrome, or certainly a tibial stress fracture, you got to be a lot more careful. You do not want to run on a tibial stress fracture until it breaks. That would be bad.
It really depends on what the source of pain is, but the shin splints masterclass I put together can really help you. It’s free. You can go get it. It’s docontherun.com/shinsplints, and you can find it there. Hopefully that will help get you back on track and get back to running with a lot less pain in your shins.
Want to learn more?
If you are a runner who wants to learn more about shin splints and the ways that you can discern the difference between a tibial stress fracture versus shin splints, sign up for the free masterclass on shin splints.
Is it really shin splints or something else? Learn the 3 most common conditions diagnosed as “shin splints” in runners.
Did your doctor tell you stop running? Learn why doctors say “stop running”and why you don’t always have to quit running!
Want to run a race even if your shin still hurts a little? Learn how you can decide whether it is safe, or if it is just too risky to show up on race day.
Grab your seat in the FREE Shin Splints Masterclass for Runners NOW!