Tuesday, January 31, 2012

shin splints, the bully.

I've been at this running thing for a solid year now. You know that, if you've been following along (and probably even if you haven't been interested but you've read it somewhere anyway). So when I talk about shin splints, you know this is something I've been dealing with for a long, long time. Maybe you don't have shin splints, but somebody out there does, and maybe they understand, or have a new idea I haven't thought of yet.

You see, shin splints are my foe. Shin splints are my arch enemy (which may be punny given the circumstances). Shin splints do not want me to be a runner, when I really do. Shin splints are like a bully on the playground, and they will push you down in the dirt and you will get mud on your face. That's just how bullies are.

Trying to pinpoint those darn shin splints.
I thought this was resolved. I spent time and money on all that I could think of: Active Release Techniques, compression socks, KT Tape, a foam roller, a different gait. It helped a lot, because those pesky shin splints were gone. I could run! I could run more than a mile and my feet stopped feeling like lead. I've come a long way since that one mile I managed to run last January.

But I've realized lately, that my shin splints aren't really gone, they've just taken a different form. You see, before, my shin splints were anterior. When I felt them, they were on the front and outer part of my shin, and many times it felt like my feet were dragging because I just could not pick them up.

Now I have a new problem... sort of. It's still shin splints, from what I can tell, but they've relocated to a new part of my leg that is actually just as painful, if not more so (because it actually will hurt when I'm doing nothing. Posterior shin splints are the new bully on this running playground.

When I was trying to find out more about this, the best explanation was actually from the KT Tape website (which has a lot of great info on this issue if you're still not sure after reading the following):

Posterior shin splint pain is specific to the medial ankle, just behind the medial malleolus and along the lower and inner shin. Note that this location is different from anterior shin splints. Pain will be felt to the touch and generally will not exhibit swelling. The pain can range anywhere from faint and annoying to sharp and debilitating. When the condition worsens, bumps can be felt along the area and represent major inflammation and distortions in the underlying fascia.

I'm obviously not a doctor, but for me it's pretty easy to tell that this is the problem I'm having. I know it's my posterior tibialis, and the KT Tape website says: "In medical terms, posterior shin splints is known as posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, or PTTD. PTTD describes a weakening of the tibialis posterior tendon and in severe cases may result in a rupture of the tendon."

Which is obviously what any runner (or wannabe runner) wants to hear. 

I'm not really sure where to go from here, honestly. I don't know if the ART is helping, or if I am going to need to be committed to going back there two times a week. I don't know if it's my shoes, or my form, or what. But I can tell you that last night I thought I'd be able to run a couple easy miles (after having run 4 on Saturday) and my legs were not having it. I ran one. And stopped.

I think runners and other athletes face a number of issues that can make what they want to do a little harder than it needs to be. I think that's true with anything in life. There might always be some sort of bully (either real or perceived) trying to stick your face in the mud.

I guess at this point, I will rest, and ice, and go back to wearing my compression socks when I'm just sitting around my living room. I guess I will try to make myself get up early to swim (although my recent trend of waking up at 7:45 might preclude this). I'll try to be more diligent about doing yoga and some core strengthening that I really need to do. And maybe I'll even look into different shoes, just to see.

Running relates really closely to all of life. You can stop when it hurts, and you can quit, or you can figure out a way to make it work, to carry on. Running and life aren't always easy, but when you have good days, they are really good, stand-out days. You have to work hard and have goals if you want to succeed. And eventually those bullies move on, and find someone else to pick on.

Or at least I hope so.

If you've ever had an experience with posterior shin splints or posterior tibalis tendonitis, please leave me a comment. I'm curious about what has worked (or what hasn't) for you, because quitting isn't an option.


  1. LindsAy! So so awesome that you are a runner! I still can't get over my 'hate' for running no matter how much I think I want to be a runner...
    Anyways, a similar shin splint situation happened to my roommate when she was training for a marathon but it turns out hers were stress fractures! So be careful:)

  2. I've been dealing with the same kind of shin splints since I started running. I've even had a stress fracture in one of my legs in that spot. I've changed my gait, experimented with various types of shoes, and still it bothers me. Basically, I just try to rest it when it really flares up and massage it, even though it hurts like the dickens. That and changing up the surfaces I run on is all I've found so far that help much. I'm going to try compression next, so we'll see.
    Sorry I can't be of more help, but you definitely are not alone in being plagued by those blighters!

  3. Hi Lindsey-

    I looked at a bit of your blog up to the RNR but not totally sure of your-(more info would help)!

    It seems as though you may have progressed too quickly? It sounds like a lot of races for the first year. Did you have enough time to work up gradually? I've had both anterior and posterior "shin splints." They are a pain, especially posterior. It's possible you may be compensating for the anterior and then the posterior started because you were running differently (just a guess). You may want to check if you are in the correct shoes and are still not overpronating or causing too much stress in the area. The ant. tibialis and post. tib slow down pronation and can get overworked. Post tib. problems do get irritated easily also because of push-off. You could change your form a little and try shortening your stride a bit (more barefoot style) and see if you can feel this less on the post tib. while its still sore and then of course rest it. That way you know if changing form would help.

    Also, you should rest and when you start to feel better, don't push it too much. Only run enough until it starts to get sore and take a rest day in between. If it stays sore or you can't increase your distance with a rest day in between, then it is probably still inflamed and not in the return to run stage and you need to rest more, stretch, do calf raises and eccentric pronation exercises. Once it does heal and responds well to running, you can slowly add in inclines bit by bit (recommend a treadmill 5 min here and there) so you are gradually stressing the area. Hope this helps. Let me know if you want it looked at more or have more questions...

    Andrea, PTrunner

  4. I had the same problem, my shin splints flair from like a dull sensation to like a ten when ever I ran, I received physio for it but the best way is to know what actually causes your pain in shins. I started to look for a solution and after some years I decided to collect all what I learned in that years of pain and from the people I helped (I'm a personal trainer). I have started a blog where I write articles about shin splints and other common runner's injuries, feel free to check it out! http://never-never-never-give-up.com