I’d like to talk about something that really messed up my freshman year’s track season: I over-trained and was not careful about having proper technique, and guess what? I got shin splints. It was very painful and really no fun at all. I even wondered if I’d had a stress fracture. The pain was in a very specific location and it got worse each day.
So what are shin splints? According to the knowledgeable trainers, there are anterior shin splints, in which the muscles in the front of the shin are impacted, and posterior shin splints, in which the muscles on the medial side of the shin are impacted. Apparently the stressing of calf muscles such as the posterior tibialis also contribute to this problem. It appeared that I’d had a problem within my plantar flexors, or calf muscles, and my dorsiflexors, or muscles on the front of my shin.
I had clearly overused and strained these muscles. It’s not just me, though. This is an issue for many runners. It’s crazy to see how something as simple as shin splints can destroy an entire season. The body’s mechanisms are evidently always very much interconnected, and it’s true that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. After my shins went to pot, everything else did as well (I started to pull other muscles!).
So how did I fix this problem? Frequent icing, compression, and massages. But in all truth, the only way I recovered from this was by doing little to or no activity. However, I was determined to change my technique sophomore year; I really focused on maintaining the “dorsi flex” technique while running, which allowed me to both run faster and protect my delicate shins. In addition, I focused on ways to strengthen those muscles surrounding my shins.
I can honestly say that I feel the pain of anyone who has gone through the troubles of shin splints. The smartest thing anyone can do is to take precautions and to take advantage of all the preventative exercises out there.
Does anyone have his or her own similar story?