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A little background...I am new to running. I ve always been a swimmer, actually trained quite a lot back in the day...and as a result love the burn of a good workout. My goal is to run a marathon by October, but my shins seem to be arguing with this just a tad.

I actually began running about 2 months ago, starting with a run 2 minutes, walk 4 and trying to gradually build from there (I m a college student, and had been walking quite a lot, around 4 miles, to and from class each day prior to beginning running). Problem is, my shins have been giving me a LOT of problems. I m not sure what to do and am becoming quite frustrated...I ve tried new shoes (currently in nike prestos, I love the shoes, they are the most comfortable things I have ever worn in my life!), gradually building up my runs, stretching, taking rest periods when they start to hurt...and as a result have not been able to increase mileage at all!

Should I run through the pain? I am guessing these are just shin splints...is it okay to run through these, do they go away? Is there anything else I can do? If anyone has any advice at all, I would really appreciate it. It is driving me nuts not to be able to run! I am trying to "rest"...so for the past month and a half have only been running about 2 days a week, with each run only about 15 minutes long.

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It sounds a lot like shin splints to me. I have gotten them since I started running (feb '02) and still get them ocassionally. What seems to help me the most is to strengthen them. There are a couple things you can do. One, would be to do some toe lifts with a little weight. You want to strengthen these muscles so use a light weight with a lot of reps would be preferred. The exercise that I do the most is to trace the letters of the alphabit on the ground with your toes. This one is nice cause you can do it while studying or even sitting in class.

You do want to be careful though, if it isn't shin splints it could be a stress fracture. You may want to have them checked out by a doctor (or someone who plays a docter on TV. ;) ). After you run be sure to ice your shins down to help reduce the inflammation and the pain.

Another thing is if you can fit in some cross training on one of you non running days. This will help your cardio improve, while saving your body some of the stress of pounding the pavement.

Good luck to you!
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Thanks so much for the reply, I will start right in with those exercises you mentioned...am a little leery of heading to a doctor since I am actually in Spain right now and the prices are quite high!

What do you recommend for a rest program? Should I continue to run...? Also, is there a specific running program you would recommend? I am a little lost...I ve got the desire to just go out and run and run, physically I think I am in shape to handle it, but since I have never done a weight bearing sport I m not sure my joints/bones are up to the task.

Thanks again :)

kat
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What kind of running shoes are you wearing, and how many (if you know) miles do you have on them. Shin splints can be caused by ill fitting or worn out shoes.
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I am currently in Nike Prestos...they re new after much searching (yes, shin problems started before this so I thought I would switch shoes...) and probably have around 30 miles on them. I ve got pretty high arches so looked for something with a lot of cushioning...which these seemed to have (as I said before, I am also in Spain...women and running do not go together here, so I chose the best of the 5 pairs that were offered... ). On the whole I really like the shoes, they are exceedingly comfortable. Still not feeling the love from the shins, however...
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You should get this checked out. Keeping in mind you are in Spain right now, don't push yourself in the running yet - it's not worth it. Ease off until you are able to see a doctor and go from there. You and your body will thank you for it!
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Another good strength builder is "toe taps". Lie on your back with your butt a few feet from a wall. With your legs in the air so it's a 90degree bend at the knee, tap your toes against the wall. Just the weight of your calves will give those tender shins a workout. Doing this a handful of times each day is a good way over the shin splints.

Something else to consider is the surfaces you're running on. Any kind of concrete is the devil's doing, ashphalt is better, but dirt roads, grass, or wood chip trails are the best. Treadmills and indoor rubberized tracks lie somewhere in the middle. What is it you're running on now?
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It's been said before, but I'll reiterate. Sounds like shin splints, which, if neglected, can get nasty and very painful. So, do some mild work on your shin muscle, the anterior tibialis. jrjo's toe taps is a good way to start, as is the folowing:
Stand with your back and heels up against a wall and your toes up in a 45o angle. Just put the ball of your feet on a few books, like the Chicago phone book. Stand there for 10 to 15 minutes a day.
Because the anterior tib is such a small muscle, it really isn't necessary to use weights to strengthen it (sorry Paul). But writing the alphabet (both CAPS and small letters) and icing them before and after workouts are great for rehab.
Rest program? Depends on you. We'd have to chat a lot more before I'd give any advice about rest.
As for the shoes...opening a huge can of worms... As one of only two people on this board that will admit to wearing Nikes, this is a really hard thing for me to say.
You might want to consider looking at a shoe that isn't quite so "cushy" as the Nike Presto. I understand the whole Spain thing, so try the rest and rehab stuff first and if you're still bothered by your shins, seriously consider looking at a different type of shoe, maybe one that's not quite so soft and cushy.
And before you ask "What type?", I'd have to watch you walk and run before I could tell you what kind.
Let us know how things go.

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I will have to give that a try.
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Thanks to all of you for your suggestions...I will definitely be trying some of these in the (very) near future!

Flatrunner...Out of curiosity, why would a less cushy shoe be better? I thought shin splints were in part due to your legs absorbing the shock of running...?

Jrjo-I am trying to run on just about anything I can find...it s a bit of a concrete land (lots of cobblestone roads, too...but those are a bit dangerous for me as it rains here a LOT and they get pretty slick when wet) without much grass, asphalt--the roads if not cobblestone are concrete--or wood trails. So usually it is a mix of concrete (I know, I know! ) and grass, though leaning more towards the grass side of things. Looks like I will have to make a concerted effort to stick to just grass.

Thank you all again for your responses, you have been very helpful!

kat
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This is what I do before running. I think it helps.

Stand with one leg at a 45 degree angle. The other leg stretched behind you. Keeping heel on teh ground, lift your foot (tapping) with an emphisis on the up movement about 20 to 25 times. Shin splints can really hurt, so I hope one of these exercises works for you.

Shelly
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This isn't one of those ballet positions is it? We wouldn't want Kat to get toe problems on top to the shin problems, now would we?
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8O How did you know?
Not really. Shin splints are really one of those lovely overuse injuries. Either doing too much too soon, or improper foot/leg biomechanics while walking/running. And by improper biomechanics, I mean overpronation.
I probably used the wrong terminology. Instead of suggesting you look at a less cushy shoe, I should have said look at a more stable, more supportive shoe.
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I agree. Out of respect for Fla, I'll spare you my usual lecture on how bad Nikes suck, but a more stable shoe might help. The toe tap thing works miracles, too.....I used that when I was first starting out and had horrendous shin splints that no matter what I did would not go away and it really helped. I also used purely cushy shoes in the beginning because I am rather....ahem....fluffy.....not a little teeny runner, and ended up having to get a stability shoe, which helped too.

When you do get them, make sure you ice well after each run. Freeze a Dixie cup or just take a cube and massage your shins with it, this does wonders for the pain. But try the taps and the phone book thing, they both work. And stretch your calves often.

Good luck and welcome aboard!

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I agree. Out of respect for Fla, I'll spare you my usual lecture on how bad Nikes suck, but a more stable shoe might help... [looking at screen and pondering]Should I mention that I've been wearing Nikes since I started running in 1976, and cushy ones at that, and have never had shin splints?[/pondering and looking]

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