Treatment of Shin Splints

Treatment of Shin What?

You hate running. But you’d love to become an officer in the Marines. So you start training for the PFT and when you go from zero to ten miles of running per week, the front of your shins start barking!

Shin splints are one of the most common running injuries, and affect a large amount of candidates and would-be candidates every year. They’re like a tradition.

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, aka “Shin Splints”

When the muscle tissue in the front of your leg and the posterior peroneal tendon get fatigued and swollen, you feel the pain known more simply as the splints. Pain usually is centered around the front, outer side of your tibia or shin bone. If you are a hard-charging motivator, you are especially prone to this injury since it is due to overuse or a too-much, too-soon increase in training.

Any Good News?

Since the bad news is that you gave yourself shin splints by training hard, like you wanted, it’s time for the good news. This common injury can be avoided easily by slowly ramping up running workouts, and also can usually be cured after the fact in a week’s time with one simple exercise.

Treatment of Shin Splints

  1. Stand on the edge of a stair or step.
  2. Point your toes out from the step and leave only your heel standing on the edge.
  3. Locking your knees (hold the wall for a little balance), point your foot and toes as far down as you can and smoothly bring them upward as far as you can.
  4. Repeat.
  5. Do one set with locked out knees for 30 seconds of constant full-range motion.
  6. Do your second set with knees bent 45-degrees for 30 more seconds with constant full-range motion.
  7. Rest one minute
  8. Repeat the two sets.
  9. Do the workout three times a day, for a total of 6 30-second sets

Stick to it, and it will work for you. It’s worked for many candidates and Marines before, and is a common workout prescribed by our Athletic trainers in the Marine Corps and by doctors in the civilian world.

Have You Conquered Shin Splints?

If you’ve had shin splints, we’d love to hear what worked for you so please share with other candidates below:

12 thoughts on “Treatment of Shin Splints

  1. Im currently suffering from shin splints after pushing to hard on my latest runs. Its good to see that there is a relatively easy cure for these as they aren’t nice at all. Ill get back to you once iv started the recovery process and tell you how i have got on!

  2. I have found that foam rolling and massage to be the best treatment for shin splints.

  3. Back in May, I got terrible shinsplints and ended up on crutches for a few weeks. (Too much running with no experience.) I was in physical therapy for about 6 weeks and they had me do a lot of glute and ab strengthening. I slowly increased my mileage, from jogging a mile about 2-3 times a week to running outside up to 3 miles without pain. Now I’m just doing a lot of leg and core strengthening on my own (weighted squats, lunges, planks etc) and gradually increasing my mileage every week. (The 10% rule is good!) For me, I had never been a runner so my legs weren’t conditioned or strengthened in the right places. Start slow and increase gradually and you will get better without hurting yourself 🙂

  4. If you can find a solid surface that has an incline on it, that helps tremendously. Making sure your calves are flexible and warmed up really helps to cut down on the stress of shin splints. I’ve seen a lot of incline board type things in the gym, maybe ask the front desk for one if you can’t find it.

  5. I’ve been a runner off and on since I graduated high school back in 2005. I ran track for six years (events ranged from 400m-1600m) so my body is pretty used to running. However, even I run into shin splints when I ramp up my training too fast. So my advice is as follows.

    Make sure you are stretching your calfs before and after. Rolling out your calfs with a foam roller is also good as you can pinpoint the specific areas that are tight. Also, sit on your heels in a kneeling position (like you are stretching your quads) with your toes pointing out and lift your knees slightly off the ground. You should feel a stretch just above your ankle. People say ice shin splints, but in my opinion it just relieves the pain a bit and does little to nothing for recovery.

    Rest! Take a few days to a week off running. This sounds like a bad idea, but unless you’re shipping in a month (you should be running a good 3-5 mile by then anyway) rest is best for shin splints, and in my experience it helps improve run times in general. There have been several times when I’ve had to take days off running for various reasons only to get back at it running faster times.

    If you’re wary of not running at all try rowing or biking as a substitute. This method of “active rest” works for some people.

    Hopefully this helps someone.

    Selected for OCC 219, Ship date 1 June 2015

  6. I dealt with shin splints every cross country season I ran in high school, and all of my advice just stems from personal experience and what my coaches told me, it is not a medically qualified opinion.

    A certain amount of grit is going to be prerequisite for handling them, because you will need to maintain your fitness. When I get shin splints, I will generally ease back both weekly mileage and intensity of my runs- generally just stick to steady state cardio for a couple of weeks, rather than pounding out 800m repeats. This means less impact and if you aren’t reducing impact (within reason), you’re just going to draw out the problem. If your legs are in bad enough shape and you have access to a pool, water jogging is a great tool because the added resistance increases your muscular and core endurance, without any of the impact of running on land and can speed recovery.

    Next I would advise rehabilitory measures. The author’s recommendation is a great exercise to relax the muscles, but my bread and butter was always calf raises. I would perform 75 in succession- 25 with my toes straight, 25 pronated, and 25 supinated, one to three times daily. Icing your legs is also a quick fix and helps with the pain. If you have access to a whirlpool or a tub with a lot of ice, taking an ice bath between 50 and 60 degrees for 12-15 minutes (waist down only!) is a great way to bring oxygen back to your beat up muscles to heal them, and provide some relief- I would take ice baths about weekly, but some guys did them at home too. I also noticed that sitting in a tub of cold water and ice cubes toughened me up considerably, which can’t be understated as a quality an officer candidate will need at OCS.

  7. Thank you officers for this blog! I’m a poolee on my way to boot camp in November. Last week I got minor shin splints, read your blog, and followed your advice. Now, my shin splints have gone away. Meanwhile I was still running, so thank you!

    I have question though, and I’m going to do some research: Why does this technique work?

    I know it’s similar to walking on heels, but I was wondering what the muscle strengthening actually does to help rid the pain. Just some independent research!

    Thank you again!

    1. Thanks, Emiliano–great to hear! This works by increasing flexibility and strengthening the muscles through their full range of motion. Also might reduce inflammation a bit in the short run. The muscles in question are on the front of your shin. They are very small and pull your foot upwards. If you are a heel striking runner, this is why these muscles would get abused as you run. I strongly recommend you get your running form examined and improved before you go to boot camp.

  8. Seriously, shin splints SUCK!!! If you get them bad enough you have to take sometimes even weeks off running. Your OSO should have a running plan for you, talk to them about avoiding overtraining.

  9. Generally, there are no “cures” for shin splints. Recovery isn’t a cure but a process to get better, that is the single most important aspect of this challenge.

    Rest well, take a week or so off of running. You shouldn’t be running all the time anyways, that’s just plain bad for you. Slowly, and carefully, increase your running distance/speed from something comfortable. For example if you are only comfortable running a mile do that for a few weeks, then 1.5 miles a few weeks, then 2 etc. On the other side, if you run a mile on flat land then change to hilly or decline land, allow yourself a few weeks to adjust to that. Allow time for recovery, and adaptation.

    Just to reiterate endurance/edurance sports have relatively high decay rates, but recovery is required for stimulus to have an overcompensating effect and you get better.

    The only other thing I have personally found helpful are full ROM calf raises about 3 reps in reserve increasing to about 1-0 reps in reserve over a month then deloading and starting again.

    Evidence suggest those who have stronger calves and more work capacity of them, are less likely to obtain shin splints.

    Then, once they are healed, just finding a comfortable warm up, particularly for the lower legs (calves, foot, and shin muscles), does enough to inhibit futher shin splints.

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