Why Do My Shins Hurt When I Run?

If you are asking why do my shins hurt when I run you are not alone. The body is complex. We all have the same physiology but everyone is different. There really isn’t a perfect answer as to why shin splints occur and why some runners never have an issue with them.

why do my shins hurt when I run

I, for one, have had to deal with shin splints one time in my 27-year career thus far. It was plenty. Shin splints can come about by wearing the improper shoe for too long.

Additionally, it can be due to poor biomechanics and the need for a light, weight lifting program to be started for the athlete.

Three key areas runners, in general, neglect the most is strength training, hydration and mental training. The great Billy Mills, winner of the 1968 Olympic 10,000m gold medal says it best regarding mental training.

The subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between reality or imagination.

So, the importance of your mindset when it comes to an injury or challenge is critical to healing. You have no control over the injury itself but you can control your mindset.

In addition to that, you can take care of yourself such as getting ultrasound treatments, taking epsom salt baths, icing your shins and resting. These are measures you do have control over.

Remember, you are always in control of your attitude and thoughts. Thoughts are magnetic. The body is comprised of about 75 percent water. The Irish Times wrote about the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto. Please read up on this.

You’ll be reminded of how important your thinking is on your recovery and your training as a whole.

Treatment For Anterior Shin Pain

The best treatment for anterior shin pain is icing and rest. There are really no other treatment methods that I know of.

That being said, if your shins hurt when running you can always including pool running into your routine. This is an essential alternative to land running and will allow the athlete to still workout without the stress of impact on the shins.

I’ve used pool running over the years when I had shin pain and it works effectively. Pool running is the closest activity to land running you can find without the wear and tear on the musculature of the body.

Shin splints often occur with athletes new to the sport of running. You have to keep in mind if you have not done this activity regularly the body has to adapt. If you have weak shins as it is it takes some time for the body to grow strong.

Below are some treatment methods you can use to take care of your shin splints. These are not the be-all-end-all of treatments but will certainly give you some guidance on how to treat this form of running injury.


Start using styrofoam cups

The best method I have used over the years is fill these cups up with water and place them in your freezer. Give it a few hours and then peel off the sided of the cups and use them to massage your shins.

The problem with any injury is that the body heals on its own time. Sure, you can take preventive measures as you clearly are doing reading this post. That being said, some injuries like shin splints take time to heal, regardless if you are icing or not.

Pick the right shoe

A good rule of thumb is to change your shoes every 2 to 300 miles. One reason many athletes develop shin splints is they may have picked the wrong shoe for their foot. Some runners are flat footed while others have high arches.

I’ve asked why do my shins hurt when I run too.

Fortunately, I have only had to experience shin splints once in my career. Excuse me, while I knock on wood. Ok, I’m back.

There are several forces that act upon the body with every stride length. If you don’t have the cushion or ankle support it can really affect the entire leg especially the shins. The shins themselves take on a great deal of the overall impact with every stride.

So, you have to ensure you are wearing the right shoe for your particular physiology.

Do Your Shins Hurt When Running?

Choose Soft Over Hard Surfaces

If at all possible, choose softer surfaces to run on then concrete and pavement. Obviously, runners don’t always have that luxury. That being said, if you can find an all weather track, dirt trails or roads to run on you are setting yourself up for success.

There is a great deal of impact on the entire body when we run. This is where implementing a strength training routine into your regiment can really prevent these types of injuries.

Sometimes it is simply not following through on specific areas of our training that brings these injuries on.

Focus on progression

The idea here is not to start off too aggressive with your training. Again, if the body is not accustomed to running the mileage it will be weak. You have to provide yourself with some time to adapt to the training you wish to place on the musculature of the body.

Don’t start off too aggressive with your training. Nice, slow mileage is key. It takes approximately 21 days or 3 weeks for the body to adapt to any stress load you place upon it.

So, don’t start back into training too soon. Additionally, you want to focus on getting in the pool or off your legs altogether if your shin splints become too painful. There is no easy way to say it.

Shin splint injury prevention is about resting, icing and taking preventive measures. It is a very complicated injury in that it basically comes on overtime.

Be PatientB

I slipped and fail on my rib cage while trying to start an evening run in January of this year (2019). As badly as I wanted to continue running I had no choice but to rest.

It took nearly 2 and half months to recover completely from that fall. I tried to run a week after the fall. I was able to run 5 miles but with pain so took an additional 2 weeks off. Slowly but surely my ribs healed and I was able to resume running.

Sometimes you just have to have the wherewithal to man or woman up and say, F-it, either I rest or keep doing this and risk worse.

Patience is the biggest deciding factor for any athlete who experiences an injury such as shin splints. Like a rib injury, there isn’t much else you can do but rest, take ibuprofen or perhaps an epsom salt bath a few times per week.

Rest is the absolute number one recommendation I recommend to anyone dealing with severe shin splint pain. If your continue to run with this form of injury the pain will only increase and you will be out longer.


Do some light stretching exercises prior to starting out on your run. Warmer muscles will often times perform better than cold muscles. In addition, try heating your shins prior to the start of your run. Utilize a heating pad prior to going out the door.

Then, focus on your run. Ice your shins when you return from your run. The combination of both heat and cold will help offset injury. Obviously, if the pain in your shins is too great complete rest is the number one remedy.

Listen to your body. If you start off on a planned run and you get a few minutes into it and are in pain stop the activity altogether. It isn’t worth making the injury worse. Remember, there is more to life than running.

Easier said than done I know. Athletes are highly motivated and don’t like anything that will disrupt their training routine. That being said, injuries do come about from time to time.

Here are a few injuries I have had over the years where there was nothing much else I could so but rest.

  1. Ruptured plantaris tendon
  2. Shin splints
  3. Orthoscopic knee surgery (3 times). Once on my right knee and twice on my left
  4. Piriformis Syndrome
  5. Patellar Tendinitis
  6. Bruised ribs (from falling on ice while on runs)

WebMD did a great article on what causes shin splints you may want to check out and add to your prevention tool kit.

Start A Strength Training Routine

Keep in mind, the goal is not to build up bulk and gain weight. You can use light weights with high reps. Focus on very light strength training exercises to strengthen the shins.

Often times, runners have muscle imbalances which is the main reason shin splints eventually set in. So, focus on strengthening the weak areas of your body. Think long-term and know that your overall success is dependent upon you not rushing the process.

The top athletes I have lived and trained with incorporate strength training into their weekly routine. Again, you don’t have to get int the gym and worry about gaining weight.

The idea here is to strengthen the weaker parts of the body. Focus on your core as a strong mid-section will help you keep proper running form. If you are wondering why do my shins hurt when I run I hope this post will provide some clues and insight.

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