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Singapore Marathon Injury Guide – Shin Splints

11 September 2011 No Comment


For those of you training for the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (or anyone running in any event for that matter), over the next couple of months I’m going to share my thoughts on common injuries you might run into as you build up your training. I’ve recently written a book on this and before that gets published I’m going to leak a few excerpts. I’ll start with shin splints as it’s a common injury for people who have just taken up running.

Understanding: Shin Splints is the name given to pain felt in the long bones of the lower leg during running. It is more common in people who have just started running as it takes a while for your legs to become strong enough to handle the impact of regular running. If you are training for a specific event start well in advance so you have time to build up your mileage gradually.

Biomechanically, the development of shin splints occurs due to the combination of two things: being too tight in your calf muscles and being too stiff in your ankle. When your calf muscles are too tight they pull on the tibia, causing pain along the line of their attachment. When the ankle joint is too stiff, as you land your ankle joint fails to absorb the impact of your body weight and thus a jarring force is transmitted up your shin.

Preventing: Obviously then, you need to keep your calf muscles as loose as possible, and your ankle joints as flexible as possible. Seeing an Osteopath can address both of these problems, but luckily there is also a lot you can do on your own. Start by increasing the mobility in the ankle joint.

Get a golf ball, put it on the ground, and gently roll it under the arch of your foot for 30 seconds. It’s easy to overdo this so just keep it to 30 seconds, and don’t put your entire body weight onto it. Then stretch your calf muscles two different ways, with your knee straight for 15 seconds then with your knee bent for 15 seconds. Then stretch the muscles on the front of your shin. Repeat this series 5 times.

Treating: After seeing your Osteopath to have your ankles mobilised, regularly perform the stretching routine outlined above. To reduce the amount of pain you are in, take a Styrofoam cup, fill it with water, freeze it, then rip the bottom off and perform 15 minutes of ice massage on your shins up to 5 times a day, always at least 15 minutes between icing sessions.

Modifying Your Training: This is an injury that you might be able to train through to a certain extent. It just depends how inflamed it has become. You need to warm up extremely well, and then run within pain limits. Start by walking for a minute, then jogging for a minute, and do this walk-jog for 10-15 minutes. Take regular breaks to stretch during your runs if you feel the tension building up in the calf muscles again. You can steadily increase your training as the pain starts to subside.

Photo from: http://www.ourhealthnetwork.com/conditions/FootandAnkle/ShinSplints.asp

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