Shin Splints: Runner’s Hell.

Never did I think that I’d be miserable when I wasn’t out running, but that magical feeling has come and I am actually enjoying exercise. Every day I get the craving to go outside and breathe in the cold Southsea air and actually do some good for my body. But no. Just when I started running 5K 5 times a week, I get shin splints. And they are hell.

It’s been 6 weeks since I last went for a run (excluding any painful walk/jogs) and I think I’m going a bit stir crazy. I’m the sort of person who likes to go out and do things with my time and be active, yet I’ve been wasting my days away watching Gossip Girl and becoming overweight. I’m starting to get restless.

Basically, shin splints are pain that you get in your lower legs from the impact on the ground when running and doing other sports. This article on Runner’s World explains it really well if you think you might have it. They result from inflexible and worn-out calf muscles putting strain on your tendons, causing them to tear. If you provoke the problem even more, it can lead to tiny stress fractures in your shins. Sometimes, if the pain isn’t too bad, it’s possible to ignore it and run through it. However, it’s important to know that if it is persistent and growing pain, do not try and run through it. That’s what I did, and now I can’t even climb up and down stairs without pain, let alone go running.

After thinking that I could run through the pain, I am now having endless trips to the doctors to get drugged up on painkillers, and I am having to have physiotherapy and possibly some scans to see if I have fractures. Not fun.

My advice would be to run on as much grass and softer surfaces as possible, and avoid concrete. (Hard I know, especially when you live in a city like me). If you are suffering, ice your legs for 15 minutes a couple of times a day, and take regular anti-inflammatorys such as Ibuprofen. Shin splints are most common in beginners and people that have just started running again as they try to increase their distance and speed too quickly. Even if you feel fit enough to run further and faster, it’s important to build up your distance slowly, maybe add an extra half-mile each week. It sounds like a waste of time, but trust me, it’s not. You don’t want to be out of running for as long as I am!