Oh, Shin Splints.

Tip Regarding Running Ailments: If you talk to enough runners you will find someone who swears by this ONE THING to prevent this ONE AILMENT and you’ll find another runner who says THAT THING DIDN’T HELP THEM AT ALL. So, don’t ever take anyone’s “advice” as a sure thing. And if their “advice” doesn’t work? Try something else. Everyone’s body is different. Everyone runs differently. Everyone wears different shoes and different clothing. The idea that there’s any ONE THING that works and ONE THING that does NOT work? Is – in itself – bullshit. Even worse? Doctors don’t all agree either. Neither do Physical Therapists. The runners in this town will say, “Don’t go to so-in-so, he’ll tell you not to run.” So, you know, basically? You’re kinda on your own. We have a great local running facebook group where people will pose an issue and everyone will tell what worked for them but in those threads you’ll see 20 different things suggested. So…keep an open mind. Be willing to keep trying. You will find the shoe/treatment/gear/workout that works for you…just A) Don’t assume any ONE THING is the only solution and B) Don’t give up.

Shin splints and blisters are the few things that plagued me early on in my running career. The blisters still do but my feet are so caloused right now I rarely feel them. This weekend I had 6 on one foot and didn’t even know it until I sat down to pop them later.

But the shin splints are weird. At first everything I read said that once you get them, the only way for them to heal is to stop running. But, like many runners, that wasn’t an option at the time. So, I spent 24 hours once icing and heating and wearing compression socks all day and I was ready to run in another day or two. Since then, if they pop up, I do the the same thing…BUT…I’ve also been doing other things that I thought was keeping them away. I run in my Zensa compression sleeves when I do long runs. (Pro Tip: Zensa sleeves can be bought individually on Amazon. Don’t go bragging to everyone you found a good deal because you’ll find out when they arrive that it was a good deal because it was only ONE sleeve.) I chose Zensa because they were just SLEEVES and not SOCKS. I have my favorite socks, I don’t like running in compression socks. Although – since I started running in my compression sleeves, I have heard Zensa is “only good for shin splints” (which is another of those statements you have to take with a grain of salt) so maybe it worked out for me.

ANYWAY. I run in Zensas. As you see in my favorite photo from this past weekend’s 50K.

As always - Photo Credit belongs to our brilliant local race photographer/athlete: Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville.
As always – Photo Credit belongs to our brilliant local race photographer/athlete: Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville.

And then I usually come home, soak in epsom salts, and put on my Swiftwick compression socks (I have two different pairs) and wear those for (at least) 24 hours. Compression for recovery is actually a pretty common thing that a lot of runners swear by. Doing that this season really seemed to help me be able to then go out the day after a 20+ run or race and do another 3-8 miles for recovery. This has worked for me ALL SEASON. No problems whatsoever.

But yesterday, around noon, I started realizing my shins were aching. And then I remembered…Oh Shit. I forgot to do my recovery compression. I came home Tuesday, took my bath, got dressed for dinner and never put on my compression sleeves. By the time I realized it yesterday afternoon it was essentially too late and I was too busy to think about it. I was meeting a friend at 5 for a short recovery run, so I decided to run in my compression socks as an aid – and y’all? You just can NOT run on shin splints. I had kinda forgotten that part. I couldn’t put the pressure on my legs and it made me run with an awkward gait which then made my knee hurt and it was the WORST 3-miles ever. I ended up walking most of it. Thankfully my friend didn’t mind. It was SO PAINFUL. Since then, I’ve been looking at knee sleeves online. A lot of people use knee sleeves to protect previous injuries and prevent further damage. Let me know if you’ve ever used one of these before.

So, I think maybe my method before was more than just a placebo! I often tell people before I give them a “what works for me” speech – I say, “Listen, this could easily be a placebo. But it works so I’m sticking with it.” And ya’ll? I don’t think my post-run compression/recovery ritual was a placebo. Or if it was? It’s a damn good one because I’m in SO MUCH PAIN. This is how I’m working today. And I’ll probably switch later and do some heat. But I’m going to keep compression on my shins FOREVER now.

(Not really.)


So, remember earlier when I said don’t give up? Find what works for you? The final tip is: AND STICK TO IT UNTIL IT STOPS WORKING. I really need a good run to loosen my legs but I can’t even think about it until these shin splints are gone because even WALKING makes me cry. I’m hoping the compression/ice/heat/pagan sacrifices today will help and maybe give me my legs back for a run tomorrow. *Fingers Crossed*

5 thoughts on “Oh, Shin Splints.”

  1. My ” could be placebo but eff it it works for me” things are:
    – I use the stick to roll out the front of my shins
    – I swear yoga once a week keeps all IT band issues at bay

  2. Zensah compression leg sleeves are my rainbows and unicorns. Running was painful and not fun, but I was determined to try something to get some exercise since I’m not a group class kind of girl and biking was getting old. Now, I wear those leg sleeves anytime I’m doing something that requires me to be on my feet for any longer than an hour. They are best thing ever! I’ll have to try getting some compression socks for recovery as I run longer distances. I went with the sleeves because I insist on running in my Thorlo socks.

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