Skip navigation

4305 Views 9 Replies Latest reply: Jan 2, 2011 12:35 AM by frmeital
brittinaxel Expert 49 posts since
Aug 13, 2008
Currently Being Moderated

Sep 8, 2009 2:42 PM

Shin Splints in left leg 4 days before half...any tips???


I am running a half marathon this coming saturday and I have shin splints or splint in my left leg.



Does anyone have ANY tips, advice,...anything that might help me would be greatly appreciated!!!



"One day of Pain is worth the rest in Pride"
  • aj01 Pro 143 posts since
    Jul 8, 2008


    Rest and ice the heck out of it is about all you can do.  It's to late for any strengthening.  You might try some compression socks for you half.  I've even slept in mine and it might've helped a little.  That's assuming it's shin splints and not a stress fracture.






  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,539 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008


    There really isn't much you can do over just a couple days, beyond what was mentioned above.  Massage (maybe with something like the Stick) may help but do that cautiously this close to the race.  Have you run much since the shin started to hurt?  The only consolation I can offer is the pain tends to diminish after a few miles.  Mine would start hurting at 1 mile and stop at about 3 miles, so I could finish without pain.  Long-term, the exercises in this article helped me.










  • JamesJohnsonLMT Legend 1,282 posts since
    Aug 23, 2009

    In your last report, you had a cramp in your right leg. This may have caused you to favor it, transferring the load to the left leg, which now has what you describe as shin splints. At least you haven't had the condition long. Since you are new to the sport, shin splints are a rite of passage many of us go through as our muscles develop and the soft tissues of our legs adjust to the new work load. If you've been on a training plan that was designed for a beginner or average runner, you might still have these pains. Regardless, your workout has reached your capacity to adjust without additional rest or maintenance.


    Muscles are made of chains of muscle cells that are grouped into small bundles, grouped into larger bundles, and eventually the whole thing is wrapped in a casing like sausage. We call this fascia. It's that tough sheet of clear stuff you might have a little trouble chewing on a chicken leg, and it doesn't always stretch as fast as you want it to. Just like outgrowing a pair of shoes, things can get a little tight in there, and the muscle can starve for adequate blood flow as it swells. If your program took you too far too fast, you might feel worn out as if you'd just run your race. Maybe the timing was a bit too tight this time.


    Shin splints usually involve the muscles in opposition to your rear calf muscles, although the term has been used to refer to both sides. Muscle splinting is a stiffening that protects the muscle from overuse. It is an involuntary response to pain, damage, fatigue, and opposition from other muscles, which causes more fatigue. A typical example would be running until your calves get tight, and the muscle on the front of the shin that stretches your calf back for the next footstrike has the extra work of stretching a stiff muscle. Then, it gives up too.


    Most muscle control is involuntary. It's simply too complicated to think about controlling our several hundred muscles, so we are gifted with a neuromuscular system that governs itself on autopilot. It's almost perfect, but not quite. Muscles literally have a mind of their own at times, and it's a good thing, or we would tear them up. When muscles splint, they are often protecting a relatively small number of fibers that have been compromised.


    Specialists call these areas myofascial trigger points - small portions of unruly muscle tissue that twists or swells into shortened knots. Like knots in your hair, they interfere with smooth operation of the muscle's healthier tissue, and compromise other related muscles by forcing you to compensate for the pain. Pull evenly on a hunk of hair, and it doesn't hurt at all, even feels good. Pull on just a few hairs, and they can break or tear out; it hurts. Likewise, muscle fibers work effectively in unison, but when just a few are tighter than others, it hurts to use that muscle.


    More detail here:


    Many people think trigger points disappear with rest, but they have actually been found in dead muscle tissue from cadavers. Hard to get more relaxed than that, isn't it? Untreated, they can last a lifetime within a muscle, causing others in a domino effect that results in postural problems and more pain and dysfunction. Often, an attempt to strengthen or stretch them simply irritates them more. Neglected, trigger points can lead to more serious damage within the muscle and to other structures, such as your joints.


    As Len suggests, there are plenty of ways to strengthen and condition yourself for the road ahead that are successful at preventing shin splints. Since it's too late to prepare now, you have to see if you can maintain the muscles, which all athletes eventually learn to do when they realize they are mortal. You have indicated that rest isn't working, but that isn't unusual. I'm willing to bet both sides of your lower leg are tight as a tick.


    Since you are almost to race day you must be on pins and needles wondering if you will finish, let alone compete, or even run at all. All of these are still possible, but you should know that as a beginner who doesn't feel good this close to a race, you also don't know what to expect from your body based on past experience. I've lost pain on easy 10 milers before, and found other pains a few miles in. Every case is different. At the very least, if you wind up running it, you should do so only at a relaxed pace that is easier than what you trained for.


    The night before my first 15k, I was a new runner too. My muscles weren't broken in either. I couldn't even stand up straight. Since I had preregistered for the race, I walked through the expo just to enjoy the atmosphere and get my money's worth. I was in pain, and sad about missing my 5th and biggest race after working my way up through 4 smaller events over the past 3 months. I blew 30 bucks on my first massage. When I told the lady about my pain, she went to work bringing tears to my eyes, especially around the hip and pelvis. I thanked her and went home to sleep it off. Race morning, I was pain free and ready to run. Did fine, never looked back. Miracle? I don't think so. She just found some trigger points.


    A year later, before my 2nd Half Marathon, I was limping the morning of the race and got as far as the start. Then, I backed off to watch everybody else run. Had a good time after all, and raced many times since. A year later, I took 6 months off (no running) to heal from another problem with my achilles. That was years ago and I've been fine since. When I had shin splints in the early training days, I thought I had a broken leg. I backed off and it went away after a few weeks. I had that problem only once since, after my long 6 month layoff. I had learned a lot in that span of time, and applied it to my leg.


    When I poked my fingers into all the nooks and crannies of my lower leg, I eventually found a sensitive area far down to the side that brought back all the old pain. I mean it really hurt to work on that tiny muscle. Each day I kept after it, the pain was bad but did not get worse. Eventually, it went away completely and never came back. I consider my experience to be normal for a runner, and I give you the benefit of that experience, what I learned and the decisions I made. Every body is different and one-size fits-all cures do not work for everybody. As you've seen in the Med Tent, many of us have similar stories to tell, and we have our favorite ways to handle our pain. All those ways work for somebody, and you will eventually find what works for you. In the mean time, the road is out there waiting patiently for your triumphant return!

  • Coppertop4 Rookie 2 posts since
    Sep 12, 2009


    I too suffer from shin splints.  Mine are in both legs.  I first had then in 1998 while in college and found that I slap my foot down pretty hard when I'm walking fast downhill.  (In extreme



    cold temperatures too which didn't help any!)



    I just read that long response, and now I will be looking for those triggers!  Thank you for that!



    In the mean time, I have worn two pairs of socks, which helps cusion the foot and find that this helps a bit.  It's hard to find shoes that you can comfortably wear two pairs of socks in



    though.   I have also heard that you can tape off just below the knee and at the ankle for added stability, but this has never been comfortable for me while moving. 



    I can only get one good run in per week and the rest of the time I'm nursing my shins back to health.  I am still overwieght and believe that is part of my problem, but I too am still



    searching for the answer to my problem.



    Good luck on your run!!!   And thanks for asking this question!!  






  • ColoCorredor Pro 97 posts since
    Dec 14, 2010

    Shin splints are one of the most common running, and can be caused by many things. One of the most common causes for beginners is choosing the wrong running shoe. Running in shoes that have worn down with no cushion, or little shock absorption can result in many injuries, namely shin splints.  Another common cause is running on hard surfaces, such as concrete. The stress of impact on the body when running on hard surfaces can dramatically increase your chances of injury.  For our more seasoned runners, shin splints can be commonly caused by increasing your mileage too soon in your running program.  Symptoms of shin splints include redness, pain, and/or swelling around your shinbone, which is the bone that connects your knee to your ankle.


    As with most injuries the best treatment is rest. You need to give your body time to heal and avoid overuse. However, shin splints can be a mild injury, and you can sometimes get rid of the pain by simply stretching. I recommend heel and calf stretches for this.


    Another effective treatment for relieving shin splints applying ice to the injury. This will reduce swelling in the inflamed muscles and tendons. Also, taking some ibuprofen, or anti-inflammatory medication, should help with swelling and pain.


    If you try all of these things, and are still suffering from shin splints, there’s one more thing you can try  before seeking the help of a physician, and that is a deep-tissue massage.

    Since I have become a more active runner, massages have become a guilty pleasure. A massage therapist can do work wonders on your tense, throbbing body, and it is considered a safe treatment method for shin splints.


    You should always seek the advice of a physician or physical therapist if the problem persists for longer than a few days.


    I hope this helps!  Good Luck & Happy Running!

    Believe you can do it. Think no other way but “Yes you can.”
    The human body is capable of considerably more physical endurance than most of us realize!!
  • frmeital Amateur 13 posts since
    Dec 7, 2010

More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...