Beat shinsplints while you build speed

Credit: Nathan Bilow/Allsport
Shinsplints are an inflammation along the inner side of the lower leg bone.

They occur most frequently in runners who: 1) increase their mileage too quickly; 2) run on hard surfaces; or 3) do high-intensity speedwork sessions.

If you do these types of workouts with tight muscles, your risk of shinsplints will be higher still.

Here's what to do. Make sure you stretch before running, after a brief warmup. Be especially thorough before your speedwork sessions. Afterward, ice your shins for 15 to 20 minutes and consider taking anti-inflammatories.

Tight calf muscles are a leading cause of shinsplints, so you'll want to pay particular attention to them.

The best time for speedwork is midweek, between easy-run days. If speedwork has caused shinsplints for you in the past, try the following:

  • Run on a soft cinder track or smooth jogging trail. Stay away from hard surfaces.

  • Start with an easy 1-mile warmup followed by some stretching.

  • Run 1 mile at your 10K pace. Recover with 2 to 3 minutes of walking.

  • Next, do a series of alternating slow and fast 400-meter repeats. That is, jog a 400, then walk for 2 to 3 minutes. Then run a 400 hard (at 5K effort) and walk for 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat this three or four times. (Gradually build up to 10 x 400 over several weeks.)

  • Cool down with a 1-mile jog.

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