Posted by: Lisa | 2004/11/04

Strengthening of shin muscles

Dear Fitness Doc

I have just recenetly started running. Having experienced pain in my shins I initially thought I had shin splits. Upon reading your explanation of shin splits I realised I do not.
I experience pain for approx. the first 2km of my run, within the next 5-7km it goes away. Do I just need to strengthen my shins - and if so - how?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

Hi Lisa

I'm not sure exactly what it was about my previous answer that made you think that it was not shinsplints. Certainly the fact that you pain goes away after 20 minutes of running does not necessarily mean that you don't have shin splints. In fact, one of the signs of shinsplints is that it goes away after a warmup or after some running. So, I would not discount this fact completely, unless there is something else that you know that I don't about your problem.

as I said, shin splints refers to pain over the front or side of the shin bone. The pain can be due to problems of the muscles, the bone, or the attachment of the muscle to the bone.

Some of the things you can do to prevent this are:
• Strengthen your calf muscles with exercises. You can do heel raises, where you lift your body up and down using your calves while standing on the edge of a step.
• Warm up at an easy pace for ten minutes.
• Remember to do your stretch routine, especially your legs.
• Do not overstride - keep your stride longer in back and shorter in front.
• If you feel the calf or shin pain, slow down.
• If the pain does not go away quickly at a lower speed, end your walk.
• For pain in the back of the leg, make sure you are not leaning forward when walking.
• Walk only every other day until the pain disappears.

I think that rest and taking more time to get accustomed to running is key though - having just started, it is very likely that your problem is more related to training that to any strength problem, and so reducing your training volume will certainly help a lot and then build up more gradually.

Good luck

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