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Struggling With Shin Splints? Learn The Common Causes And 5 Pro-Athlete Tips On What To Do About It


Are you currently training for that race you’ve always dreamed of doing? Find yourself racking up the miles, having the dedication to brave all weather conditions in pursuit of that feeling when you cross the finish line and to forever hold the bragging rights to your friends and family… all for it to be halted by a niggling pain in the front of your shins which you’re doing your best to ignore?


You can’t understand why you’ve got this pain and why you!! It’s always been your running partners or friends that have struggled but never you! You are left wondering if it could be Shin Splints… and yes, it very well could be!


Shin splints can be a frustrating injury as your shins can feel fine at rest but after a mile you notice the pain, which can slow your mile times or stop you from running altogether! Shin splits affects the Tibia (your shin bone) which has an important weight bearing role in your lower limb and therefore everyday life.


We commonly see runners in clinic if they’ve left their training for a big race to the last minute and then try to cram it all in just a few weeks. What has happened in these situations is the person has increased the load too quickly and the body cannot cope and starts to break down. Sound like anyone you know?


Another reason you may be getting shin splints is because of those beloved running shoes that over the years have worn down and are now offering very little in the way of support. Training on hard surfaces (road running) in an old running shoe will add to poor running biomechanics and movement patterns. To be honest an old running shoe is most likely highlighting any movement and technique issues you may have which are often the main cause behind all your suffering






The best thing to help ease the symptoms of shin splints is to take a step back to take two steps forward. Your shins will thank you!!!




To manage the pain, I recommend applying ice over the painful area in a damp towel for 10 minutes at a time. Twice a day will really help to reduce that aggravated feeling!




Another top tip would be switching to low impact activities whilst your pain is at its worst. This will allow your tibia to recuperate. Activities that I recommend are swimming, cycling, rowing. These activities will keep your cardiovascular fitness up

whilst you are laying off the running.




I touched upon poor biomechanics earlier. Ask yourself this question. Who taught you to run? I bet your answer is no-one, I just did it.


And this is where the problem begins…..as we have never been taught how to run we develop bad habits in the way we run. Often the body will cope and adapt to bad movement but rack up those miles and repeat bad movement over and over and problems start to set in.


A very common fault we see all the time in clients with shin splints is – over striding! In a nutshell this means that the foot lands too far in front of the body. Think of a car…..you are driving along but the brakes keep coming on and stopping the smooth drive. This is exactly what happens when you over stride. Each time your foot hits the floor too far ahead of you you are turning on your own braking system meaning your running doesn’t flow smoothly…..not good!


So then what’s the correct way to land I hear you ask? I can’t reveal all the secrets but one that I will let you in on is there is an ideal foot landing position which consists of heel strike to toe off and this could well be one of the errors in your running style. So my advice to you if you are a keen runner is to go invest some time in getting your technique checked by a trained professional. You will thank me for it.


Movement patterns and running techniques is something we can take a look at for you here at the clinic. Through the Running School programme, we can offer you video analysis of your running and advise you how best to fix it.  We will help you to improve the way you move and provide a personalised stretch, strengthen and run training programme to get you moving the way you should!




A strong core is vital to good movement; the good news is that Pilates can really help runners to be faster and prone to less injuries. Pilates is based around focusing how we move, how we breathe when moving and pelvic and spinal stability targeting the body’s natural muscle slings which are used when running; this will really get you firing on all cylinders!




A number of tight muscles in the body can be a cause of shin splints, one area to focus on should be your calf muscles!


The good old calf stretch is a key stretch to help with easing shin pain. Stand on a step, let your heel drop down off the step, keeping your knee straight. From this position if you bend the knee it will target the deeper postural muscles of the calf! Perform both bent and straight knee heel drop stretches daily to help improve things. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 stretches on each side.


So there you have it a few top tips to start to help ease shin splints.


If it’s your first ever race or a seasoned competitor aiming for a personal best and want some more tips on coping with sporting injuries, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and keeping free from painkillers and sports supports get your free copy of our sports injury guide: http://www.wdcphysio.wpenginepowered.com/physiotherapy/free-guide-for-injured-athletes/












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About Wendy McCloud

Wendy is the founder of The South East’s Leading Specialist Private Physiotherapy Practice for People in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, who want to keep healthy and active.

Wendy’s background includes working as an Extended Scope Practitioner Physiotherapist working as part of Mr. Ali Al-Sabti’s Orthopaedic Consultant’s team specialising in Shoulder Pain.

Wendy has treated royalty for Shoulder pain through referrals from her close links with a top Orthopaedic Shoulder Surgeons. More recently Wendy has been the sole choice physiotherapist for all Essex based referrals from London Shoulder surgeon Mr. Matthew Sala.

Wendy worked in National Level Rugby Union for 11 years, working with players who achieved county honours and representative honours for various countries such as England, Samoa, Australia and New Zealand. Wendy resigned from her position as Head Physiotherapist at Southend RFC in June 2011 to open WDC which has become the fastest growing clinic in the South East of England.

WDC is now a large multi-therapist speciality practice in Southend-on-Sea, Essex.

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Wendy founded WDC in September 2006. She has worked in both the public and private sectors. Within the NHS, Wendy worked as a Senior Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and an Extended Scope Practitioner Physiotherapist as part of an Orthopaedic Consultant’s team specialising in Shoulder Pain. Wendy has treated royalty for Shoulder pain through referrals from her close links with a top Orthopaedic Shoulder Surgeon. More recently, Wendy has been the sole choice physiotherapist for all Essex-based referrals from London Shoulder surgeon Mr Matthew Sala. Wendy also worked within the national rugby union as the head physiotherapist for Southend Rugby Football Club. She led the medical service at the club for 11 years, working with players who achieved county honours and representative honours for various countries such as England, Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand.
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