What did you think I was gonna say?
Anyways, like most people who run, I've had to deal with shin splints. And since starting the runstreak, I've tried to be extra careful about taking care of this problem area. Because shin splints, while they may not seem like a huge deal, can seriously sideline some training. Especially since, if left untreated, they can progress to stress fractures. So when I started noticing some pain in my shins late last week I knew I had to take care of them right away.
Not gonna let something stupid like my shins ruin this runstreak.
So what are shin splints and how do I treat them?
Shin splints are actually a secondary reaction though, the symptom of other types of injuries, including irritated and swollen muscles, stress fractuces, or flat feet.
There are lots of ways to treat shin splints though, and everyone has their favorite tried-and-true methods. My method for treating shin splints, and most injuries comes down to the acronym R.I.C.E. I learned this one while coaching it's a simple, easy way to remember the steps to treating injuries.
R - REST I - ICE C - COMPRESSION E - ELEVATE
REST. This one is the hardest for me. Since I'm doing a runstreak, taking a day completely off is not an option, but I have modified my workouts to give myself "easier" days, which I consider a rest day. So on days when my shins are feeling particularly tender, I shorten my distance and slow my pace in order to give my body a break.
ICE. Ah, good old ice. I have a cold pack that I generally use when I've got sore parts. A girl I cheered with made them for everyone on our team one year. They're pretty simple; just a couple squares of fabric sewn together with dried corn inside. But it works AMAZING. It perfectly conforms to the shape of of whatever you're icing and holds the cold for as long as you should probably be icing. Plus, it's easy to throw it in the freezer and cool it down again to re-use later. Another common icing technique is to fill a Dixie cup with water and freeze it. Once it's frozen, take it out and peel away the top part of the paper and then rub it up and down the length of your shins. This acts as both icing and a sort of massage, working out the kinks in the muscles and tendons on your shins.
COMPRESSION. This is the one I need to work on more. I know a lot of runners use compression socks and it's probably something I should look into. Keeping things compressed helps reduce the swelling, which is what causes the majority of the pain.
ELEVATE. Again, this one is pretty self explanatory. Elevating the area of your body that is sore helps to reduce swelling in the area and the swelling is what causes the pain. Besides, as a runner, I don't need much of an excuse to kick up my heels on the couch after a long run and watch a little football. Now I can justify it though as part of taking care of my body. Yeah, that'll work. :)
Hopefully you don't ever have to deal with shin splints, but since most of us do, just remember to use R.I.C.E. and you'll be back to normal in faster than the finish in a 0.1K race. :)
Until next time, #RunLove!