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mirifique's avatar

Advice on treating shin splints?

Asked by mirifique (1540points) September 28th, 2009

I am a moderately-serious runner, running 30 miles/week on average, but only recently have started playing in soccer games. I’m a serious sprinter during the games, but have been developing moderate shin pain (4/10 on the pain scale, I’d say) by the end of the game, which comes back if I go running and even when I’m not (at about a 2/10 level). My pseudomedical research so far has indicated that I should stop running for 2–3 weeks, ice my shins for 15 minutes after exercise, take Ibuprofen, overstretch my calves, and see a podiatrist to get orthotics. I made an appointment with a podiatrist, but it’s 2 weeks out; I suppose the question is whether I should really actually not run or play soccer until I see the doctor and get orthotics (which could take another 2 weeks?), or whether this is more of a “take it as it comes” sort of thing due to the fact that my muscles and bones are adapting to the increased stress load. Running is my main form of exercise, and I don’t have a bike or swim, but I could go to the gym and use the elliptical; the question is, should I only be using the elliptical until this magical date when the pain finally subsides? And should I not play in my upcoming game?

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9 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

Shoes, shoes, shoes! Try the Vibram “barefoot” shoes.

gailcalled's avatar

My daughter was a runner and a hurdler in HS. She developed shin splints and had to change activities. Now she hikes, bikes (often long, uphill trips), downhill and x-country skis.

DarkScribe's avatar

Calf stretches and warming up before running.

mirifique's avatar

@gailcalled That is distressing news.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

God, I hate shin splints. I’ve had them on and off for the last five or six years.

Your muscles are not “adapting” to the new load. That’s the problem. Instead of getting stronger to deal with it, your tendons are getting weaker, from the stress, so don’t keep doing it. Definitely sit out the next soccer game. If you keep pushing them you can end up with a stress fracture.

I would do stop playing soccer and running for about two weeks, then slowly start running again. Since you first started getting them while playing soccer, I would stop playing soccer for a bit longer, while you practice your sprinting alone without the added pressure of a game. I would suggest going back to soccer in about a month, and see how it feels. If you develop pain again, sit out for a while longer, possibly forever. (I know, it sucks!)

As far as orthotics, they’ve helped me a lot. Personally I think Orthotist/Prosthetists (people who specialize in making orthotics and prosthetics) do a better job than podiatrists, but that’s not too big of a deal.

Stretching the calf muscles (especially by letting your heels hang while your toes rest on a step or ledge) has helped me tremendously as well.

chicadelplaya's avatar

I would take it easy. You really don’t want to injure yourself further. Ice them for sure. And I would seriously cut back on your runs and maybe hold off playing soccer for now. You could always call your doctor and ask his/her professional opinion. Shin splints hurt like a bitch. I used to get them quite a bit when I was running and swimming a lot concurrently. Hope you feel better soon!

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Tylenol for the pain.

YARNLADY's avatar

Respect the advice of your physician. Do not try to indulge in activity before your advisor releases you, you will only regret it.

mascarraaa's avatar

ohh god i feel your pain! i got shin spilts when i started cross country, but for my love of the sport i still run and run my daily dose with my team :)

but of course icing them would help && if you took the running a little easier too

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