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Shin splints running injury – terrifying or treatable?


When training for an event like the London marathon/triathlon or similar, painful shins can often lead to a panicked research on shin splints, and shin splints treatment. When internet searches reveal such weighty sounding terms as medial tibial stress syndrome, and stress fracture the true terror of your shin splints running injury can really begin to set in!

A shinsplints running injury can be terrifying - but it is treatable!

A shinsplints running injury can be terrifying – but it is treatable!

At City Sports Massage we have found that often, the feeling runners describe as a ‘shin splints’ running injury is simply the result of overloading the muscles too quickly and too intensely. Underlying this might be several other factors; tight calves, gait, inappropriate running shoes etc.

Like many sports injuries, they are the body’s way of asking us to make a change, or reminding us that if we don’t make a change, things will likely get worse. And no-one wants overloaded muscles to develop into a full blown shin splints running injury!

Shin splints – Four important points about early intervention

i) It is important to respond to these requests early in order to prevent a chronic condition developing (a full blown shin splints running injury), which will in turn be harder to treat. Early intervention can prevent pain, AND save time and money!

ii) At this stage it’s important to recognise any feelings of frustration and/or catastrophisation about possible outcomes. It is these feelings that often cause runners to continue training through the painful shin splints, which might in some cases cause the condition to develop into a stress fracture, pushing recovery further away.

iii) Remember that fitness can still be maintained in other ways pre-event, such as swimming or cycling (if cycling, perhaps using the heel of the foot to push the pedals, trying to avoid creating tension in the calves or shins).

iv) Don’t forget that treatment and care may yet yield very positive results.

Three things to consider for the early care of shin splints

i) Resting and icing a shin splints running injury as soon as possible is advisable. After the initial ice treatment, alternating heat and ice can also be helpful.

ii) Once rested, warm up feet, ankles, calves and legs before trying to run again. This helps create more ‘space’ in the lower leg by making soft tissues more supple, elastic and ready for action. Take the first run gently. Go easy, and be kind to yourself.

iii) Get a good quality sports massage! Sports massage can be a fantastic way of not just ‘getting in touch’ with your body and developing a greater understanding of it’s needs and requirements, but also unlocking the areas that might be creating problems. In the case of a shin splints running injury this might be overtight calves that have gone into shock after being asked to pound the city streets – perhaps after a period of relative inactivity?

Our bodies can feel like incredibly bewildering and overwhelming places to be. Pain can and does cause feelings of panic “I’ll never be fit enough for the marathon/triathlon now!” A good, connected sports massage treatment can give a deeply personal insight into the structure and nature of one’s own body. Gaining this insight often provides answers that can inform your next course of action; be that a small change in running style, a simple change in training regime, or perhaps going back to the old training shoes and alternating them with the new ones!

Will sports massage definitely help my shin splints running injury?

There are no guarantees with any treatment modality (and most ‘cures’ require a combination of approaches and training or lifestyle changes) but with City Sports Massage you will have had a great treatment that has helped realign your aching muscles, given you a greater understanding of your body, and hopefully helped prepare you for the road ahead! We never suggest pointless return treatments, as our clients will verify. If you are not recovering from a shin splints running injury (or any other condition we are treating you for), we always refer to other specialists who can help investigate further. We want to get you on the road to recovery asap!

We believe in putting YOU at the centre of your own recovery. We want to inspire and empower you with a growing confidence in the ’embodied’ knowledge of your own body. To see why our clients think we are the best sports massage therapists in London, check us out at City Sports Massage!

City Sports Massage giving a shin splints running injury treatment, helping London Marathon runners with painful shins.

City Sports Massage giving a shin splints running injury treatment, helping London Marathon runners with painful shins.

Please note that this article is for general information purposes only. Diagnosis should be carried out by your Doctor, or a medical professional. City Sports Massage are not liable for the content of any external websites.

© Jon Gee 2013Jon Gee is the founder of City Sports Massage, a team of sports massage therapists based in London who combine deep-tissue massage therapy with stress-reduction and body-awareness techniques. Jon’s articles have been published in the peer reviewed Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies. He specialises in teaching postgraduate sports massage therapists advanced intuitive massage skills through the application of his mindfulness-based approach. Jon’s work teaching therapists enables them to teach their clients how to develop their own pain relieving, body awareness skills.