No pain, no gain? No way! Even though exercising is supposed to be good for the body, it doesn't always feel good. Shin pain is a common complaint when running. If it's excruciating, you definitely do not want to run through it. But if you're experiencing a little discomfort on the front of your legs and you don't want to end your workout, try these four techniques to ease shin pain.
- Use a tree: Sometimes all you need is a little time to stretch out the muscles in the lower legs. Do this standing quad stretch that will also stretch the shins, and using a tree, wall, or curb, do this calf stretch. Do both legs and repeat one to three times.
- DIY foam roll: Since you obviously didn't bring a foam roller on your run, use the heel of your palm to rub the shin from just below the knee toward the ankle, then reverse the direction, moving toward the knee, pressing firmly and slowly. Repeat one to three times, doing both legs. This little self-massage feels amazing.
- Run differently: If you're prone to heel striking, which means you land on the heel of your foot with each step, that can overwork the shins, causing pain. Really focus on landing on the midfoot instead. If you're already doing that, take 30 to 60 seconds to purposely run landing on the balls of the feet, almost like your tiptoe running. This will put more emphasis on the calves, giving your shins a break. Lengthening your stride (taking bigger steps) while doing this can make this easier and encourage you to land softer and more gazelle-like. After 30 to 60 seconds, go back to running normally.
- Go soft: Taking softer steps is helpful, but you can cushion the blow even more by running on softer surfaces. Try moving off the sidewalk or street to the grass or a dirt trail.
- Walk-run: If those things don't work, before throwing in the towel, turn your run into a walk-run. That means run for three minutes, walk for one. Or if that's too much, shorten the running interval to one minute. Walking will give your shins time to recover.
If all of these don't work, your shin pain may be trying to tell you something. Ask yourself these questions to get to the root of the pain.
- Have I increased my mileage too much, too soon? A good rule of thumb is to follow the 10 percent rule, and if you have an upcoming race, be sure to follow a training program that gives you enough time to gradually increase mileage while giving you time during the week to cross-train. This half-marathon training schedule and this marathon plan are at least four months long.
- Am I wearing the right sneaker to offer the most stability and support I need? These sneaker buying tips are perfect to take with you to the store.
- Am I in need of new sneakers? If it's been over 500 miles, the answer is absolutely yes.
- Do I strengthen my lower legs outside of running? This seated dumbbell exercise is a must.
- Do I remember to stretch after a run? These postrun yoga poses not only target the lower legs, but the hips and lower back as well.