Shin Pain – Try This

Shin splints may be costing you more than pain and here is why …

THE PROBLEM

Many Americans suffer from the common problem of shin splints. The pain and sensitivity associated with shin splints can be enough to send someone screaming if they get hit in the shin and is sure to keep them from exercising. Far too often I hear people saying “I need new running shoes because I can feel my shin splints coming back”. Is that really the case? This article may provide insight and help you save a few dollars.

I am not a doctor and will not elaborate on the specifics of shin splints in this article. For clarity, running is a high impact exercise and without proper precautions, all that impact can put unnecessary strain on various joints, bones, tendons, etc … in your legs and feet. Why are you getting shin splints if you just bought new shoes, especially if you were fitted for running shoes based on your pronation? I suffered from shin splints for years even after a fitting by a pronation specialist. Pronation specialists can record the way you run, usually on a treadmill. By analyzing how your feet strike the ground they can determine what type of support, if any, you need in your shoe. In my opinion, support shoes are a waste of money and cause more harm than good. They are band-aids that aim to reduce the problem rather than cure it.

THE FIX

Years ago, after trying various types of shoes, and noticing serious calluses on my big toes, I decided to try the Vibram Five Finger toe shoes. If anyone has ever run in these I am sure they will agree that if you run incorrectly, you will know. During each run, or even walk, I had to pay more attention to how my foot was striking the ground. Wearing these shoes was uncomfortable and felt awkward because my standard running shoes provided excessive cushion and support. My legs and feet had adapted to an incorrect running posture and my shoes were allowing me to continue on that road.

Fast forward, I switched to a minimalist running shoe. These shoes have closed toes but extremely thin soles. They have a level sole from heel to toe and no support, at all. Over the course of time I now can run however far I like, however fast, and however long without shin splints. A Dramatic increase in activity can cause sensitivity but it fades within a day or two.  Running without support may scare people but support is only allowing you to run incorrectly if you do so. Your body will be forced to run in a more natural manner if there is little support. I had to slowly increase my running mileage and wear them even when walking around. Eventually, my inward pronation lessened. My arch became more prominent and my calves became stronger enabling me to have a solid, natural running posture. Research proper foot striking during running for a more clear description.

TAKE ACTION

Often I hear people increasing their activity too quickly and it results in shin splints. There is almost no way around that if you are inactive, to begin with, and then start activity at a fast pace.  Take into consideration any weight gain – if you have gained weight, it is likely that your knees have not accommodated to that increase in weight; therefore, the impact is going to be greater on your shins. Combining those two factors you are surely going to have some pain or feelings of being uncomfortable, initially. Before you go out and purchase a brand new pair of shoes consider cutting back your running and applying ice. You will have to ice your shins in order to reduce to swelling to heal effectively.

Hiking Japn in Luna Sandals

The bottom line, if you are wasting money on new shoes every few months because you are getting shin splints, stop. You need to identify the issue causing your pain. My suggestion, switch to a zero drop (minimal heel height) minimalist running shoe. You can ask any footwear specialist about this type of shoe and they will know what you mean if they are reputable.  Start off running slow, short distances in your minimalist footwear first. You may feel pain in the toes or other areas of your foot and that is normal. If you want to jump off of the deep end you can actually run in Luna Sandals. I have, it feels great on the feet!

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding minimal footwear.

 

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