Shin Splints

Shin Splints

Some people were asking about Shin Splints at circuits on Friday and again at the race series on Sunday.  Michael received this email from a site he was registered with recently and it has a lot of details on tretment of shin splints.  I am reprinting it here for the record, though there may be more details on the site. Dear Michael,

Hi, Jerry Hopkins here from

Since it is spring time and a lot of people are picking up their running, I thought it would be a good idea to send out some emails about injuries. For you runners who have been on my list for a long time, this will be a review. But, it is important to always keep these things in mind.

I’m starting with Shin Splints, since I have received many emails about them lately.

While I can’t say that will be injury-free from running, by following my program, outlined in “How To Run Like A Deer”, you can definitely improve your odds of staying injury free. The first step to understanding the logic behind my advice is to gain an understanding of typical running injuries.

So. in the next few e-mails, I am going to address “shin splints”.

Next to knee problems the most common complaint of pain and injury for runners is shin splints. The term “shin splints” is a loosely used term basically meaning any pain, discomfort or injury to the lower leg area. I am going to use it to describe any kind of pain in the front of the lower leg, i.e., the shin. (I will talk about the rear part of the leg in other upcoming e-mails.) This can range from pain from inflamed muscles, or tendons in the shins to hairline fractures in the shin bone itself.

Once again, we find the bane of many runners as one of the causes of shin splints. That is overuse/overtraining. However, there can be other causes, like old, worn out shoes, the wrong type of shoe, and running too long on too hard of a surface.

So, if you are still wearing the same pair of shoes for more than a year, it’s time to get a new pair. If you don’t know how to buy a pair of running shoes, I posted a short article to assist beginners in buying shoes. Check it out at I will be putting up some shoe reviews soon. If you want to let me know what kinds of shoes you want reviewed, send me an e-mail. Feel free to tell me what your favorite pair of shoes are.

Since, getting a new pair of shoes is fairly easy to fix, I will concentrate on the overuse/overtraining issue of shin splints in this e-mail.

Overtraining is basically too much training with too little recovery time. Mostly, beginner runners make this mistake, but even experience runners make it, too. Usually, this is when they start to train for a race, and they either give themselves too little time to train for it, or they just become over enthusiastic and just run too much too fast.

The basic fix for overtraining is to cut back and give yourself time to recover. I’ll talk more about overtraining in an upcoming e-mail.

Running is hardest on the lower part of your leg. The reason why running can be hard on your body, is when you run, each time your foot strikes the ground, there is a shockwave, that will travel up your lower leg, through your knee, your upper leg and into your hips. It will basically travel all the way to the top of your body. But, once it makes it past your core, a lot of energy has been lost. Your lower leg takes most of this shockwave. You would think it would be the feet. However, since most modern running shoes (that aren’t worn out) have lots of cushioning, the feet are pretty much protected.

The energy from the shockwave must be absorbed by the musculoskeletal system. Of course, the harder the surface, the harder the shockwave. However, you want your muscles to absorb the shockwave more than your bones, or connective tissues. In fact, your muscles will absorb most of it. However, when you become fatigued, your muscles start to give out and absorb less. The bones and connective tissue will then end up absorbing more.

You can think of it this way. If you were to jump straight up from a standing position, then as you came down, what do you do. You probably engaged your muscles to help cushion the shock and the jump is pretty painless. However, if you were to jump and then make your legs straight and try not to make your body too rigid, you will feel the wave of pain in your feet, ankles, legs, knee and hip. If you don’t engage your muscles at all, you will fall over after your feet hit the ground.

You might want to try this. But, be warned, don’t jump too high or you could hurt yourself. Maybe, 1 to 2 inches. In fact, you can just tip up on your toes, like a calf raise and just release the tension and drop onto your heels. Try it on a carpet. Either way, don’t be sending me e-mails, saying how you hurt yourself. If you are prone to injury, or think this might hurt yourself, then don’t try it and just trust the explanation.

If you were to continue to jump up and down, hundreds or even thousands of times, which is similar to what happens when you run, eventually your muscles will become fatigue. And, from the experiment above, guess how the shockwave is going to be absorbed. This is why rest/recovery is important. As well as having strong (in endurance terms) muscles.

Now most of you might be aware that the more pounding a bone receives, the more dense it becomes. Your bones are not static, and they will adopt to external stimuli. The more you run, the denser your leg bones become, especially the lower leg bones. This is one reason why beginners experience pain in their shins, because their bones are not dense enough to withstand the stresses of running.

This is also one of the reasons why more women seem to suffer from shin splints than men. In general, women have less bone mass than men.

Even though, your bones get denser and can withstand more shock, you still need strong muscles to assist with the shock absorption. Again, reference the experiment above. Try doing hundreds of jumps with out using your muscles to assist and soon you will realize you won’t be able to keep doing it for long. On second thought, don’t try that. Just realize that it is your musculoskeletal system working together that absorbs the shockwave.

The overtraining/overuse problems and understanding how the body absorbs shock from running applies not just to “shin splints” but to several types of injuries. I think it is important for runners to comprehend this concept. Because that knowledge can help you to run injury free. I brought it up in this e-mail because it more evident in shin splint type of injuries. I’m sure I will bring it up again. For runners who have my course “How to Run Like a Deer Forever”, you should already be familiar with these concepts. But, it is good to read about them again.

So, in the next few e-mails I will go more into the common kinds of “shin splint” injuries.

Remember, if you are experiencing pain, see a doctor as soon as possible.

And, if you are thinking about or have given up running because of pain or fear of injuries, give my course a try. You can order here:


Jerry Hopkins

This email is for educational purposes only. Always consult your own personal doctor for medical advice and follow it even it contradicts what is said in this email.

Copyright 2006

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