Sock Doc: Treatment & Prevention of Shin Splints

Sock Doc video on shin splints treatment and prevention. For the post, click here.

Video Transcript

Hey, this is Sock Doc. Today I’m going to talk about a common running injury called shin splints. So shin splints are the pain that you had maybe once in your life, maybe in high school, maybe you’ve got it now where you’ve got pain in the lower leg usually in the front of your lower leg, your sort of shin muscles there next to your shin bone. And usually the prescribed treatment is the good old Dixie Cup.

You take a frozen Dixie Cup, cut off or scrape off the bottom of the Dixie Cup and rub that Dixie Cup up and down your shin muscles there to hopefully relieve some of the pressure and pain in there that’s keeping you from running or walking comfortably. Well, as usual there’s better ways to take care of the problem and hopefully preventing it from happening again or if you don’t have it at all hopefully from preventing it from ever occurring to you.

So let’s talk about the shin muscles. Coming down here to your lower leg you’ve got two major players with this injury. Your tibialis anterior muscle which lies to the inside of your shin bone which is known as your tibia, comes all the way down, wraps through the top of your foot. And then you have your tibialis posterior muscle which sits in the back of your shin bone, again your tibia and this is the one that I talked about in the plantar fasciitis video. It comes all the way down from the back of your leg here, I’ll show you more in a minute, all the way down to the arch of your foot.

So you’ve got an imbalance between these two muscles and that’s why the pain persists. Now what will either happen is one of two scenarios. Either the muscle in the front, the tibialis anterior will spasm because of the one in the back being weak, the tibialis posterior or vice versa. The tibialis posterior might spasm because the tibialis anterior is weak.

So think of it maybe in more simple terms is if your bicep muscle isn’t functioning well then your tricep is going to be the one that’s tight and spasming. And your inclination might be to go and rub out your tricep because that’s the one that hurts where the problem is really on the other side of the weak muscle. And this is just a reflection of that weakness.

A very similar situation here in the lower leg. You’ve got the muscles in the front and the back of that tibia bone, the shin bone the anterior and the posterior tibialis muscles and those aren’t cooperating well. They’re not functioning well together. So there is an issue usually in one or the other of them, sometimes both. And that’s causing you to have anterior or posterior shin splints meaning you have pain somewhere in one or the other. When that gets worse enough sometimes people are even diagnosed with what’s called compartment syndrome and sometimes surgery is recommended. Usually it’s not a very good thing to do and rarely necessary and doesn’t even address the problem anyway.

So let’s get back to what we talked about before in some other videos is the most effective way to treat these is not the ice and not from stretching because remember stretching pulls muscle fibers away from one another. It elongates them. When you have an injury you want to look for the area of tenderness, those trigger points, to push those muscle fibers back to one another to get them to heal faster and line the muscle fibers back up. We don’t want to stretch them. That’s one of the major Sock Doc rules.

So we’re looking for trigger points in our tibialis anterior or our tibialis posterior muscles. So what that means is come down here. Tibialis posterior actually starts a little bit behind your fibula bone which is that bone on the outside of your lower leg. You’re going to look in here, down just a little bit, but especially more to the inside of your lower leg. So just below the crease of your knee search in here and then, so we’re here and then you’re going to come around and go right down the tibia bone on the inside here or really all the way down with your thumb just along the inside of the tibia bone, all the way down to about here looking for any tender spots.

So those are the trigger points. And any sore spots you might have here with your thumbs you’re going to rub them out, light circular motion, or you can even hold them all the way down to the arch of your foot here where it supports the arch of your foot is about where the majority of that muscle ends. And you’re going to help to hopefully reset those muscles and break up the adhesions in there so the muscle fibers can join back together and heal.

Now the tibialis anterior, same type of thing. You’re looking for the trigger points but now more on this side of the tibia bone, more towards the outside of your leg. You’re coming just down the inside of your tibia with your thumb looking for any sore spots. Sometimes it might feel like it’s right on the bone. And come all the way down to about right here, maybe just about where your ankle joint starts there. And look for those tender spots.

Now some people even can get stress fractures there or feel like they have stress fractures because their shin splints are so bad. So that’s what you’re looking for, those trigger points in that area.

Again, don’t be stretching. Don’t be putting your, you know, the ball of your foot on a stair or anything like that and dropping your heel down to stretch them out. It’s not a good idea. So you’re looking for that imbalance between the front and the back. And usually that’s justified by any sore spots in there that you can rub out in a trigger point, in doing trigger point therapy.

So another major issue in getting over your shin splints and hopefully preventing them if you’ve never had them is your shoes because wearing non-
minimalist shoes especially shoes with a very high heel will put you in the position when you’re running and you’re landing on your heel like this rather than more mid- or forefoot land as you’re landing and pushing off on your foot.

So think about if you’re constantly pounding like this the stress that’s going to put on your tibialis anterior muscle here and start to create your shin splints if you’re constantly running and landing like this.

Whereas if you’re wearing more minimalist shoes or walking or running barefoot you’re always going to be landing like this and dispersing that weight and the balance, the force, throughout your foot and up your leg normally and not just concentrating it on specific muscles that aren’t used to handling so much force and impact.

So make sure your shoe is very minimalistic, very low, very low heel to fore foot drop. Again, and that usually means the heel isn’t built up much and very little support in the shoe which means no anti-pronation devices, no, you know, no extra support, no extra cushion. And be walking barefoot as much as you can to strengthen your feet.

That also means as you know no orthotics. So orthotics are going to support dysfunction of your feet. They might make you feel better while you’re in them because it’s supporting the muscle and imbalances in there, but they’re not going to correct anything. And often over time a new injury will result that you might not associate with your orthotic use. It could be in the other leg, it could be even in your upper arm from wearing an orthotic and obviously in your foot.

I talk about this in some of the gait articles on Sock Doc. Orthotics will support the dysfunction of your foot and they’ll support gait imbalances. They don’t correct anything. So your goal is to get out of those. Work your way out of those as quickly as you can, as comfortably as you can, and start strengthening your feet by wearing minimalist shoes and going barefoot.

So that’s one of the obviously the main principles to get rid of your shin splints and to hopefully keep yourself injury free. Also remember to evaluate stress levels. If you’re training too hard, if you’re training anaerobically, if you’re racing too much, too high of a heart rate, under too much stress which can include dietary stress from an improper diet -
too many carbohydrates, not enough protein, bad fats in your diet, all things I address on the Sock Doc site.

That’s how people get injured. You get injured from being too anaerobic and that could mean either the training is too anaerobic or there’s too much stress in your life creating anaerobic excess. And that’s really how people get injured. They get injured from basically trying to handle more than what they can. And that results in injuries along possibly with the wrong type of footwear.

So back to training aerobically, eating well, staying well-hydrated, walking barefoot. Look for those trigger points in your lower leg, maybe where the shin splints are or maybe on the opposite side. So if its anterior shin splints remember to look in the back. If you have posterior shin splints which might sound like Achilles tendonitis to you, maybe not, but look in the front. It could be a very similar type of injury.

Remember it’s important to diagnose why you have something rather than what you have. So someone might tell you have Achilles tendonitis. Someone might say, “Oh, that’s posterior shin splints.” It really doesn’t matter in the long run. You’re going to hopefully figure out where those points are that you need to address and address it more at the source rather than at the symptom. And look for those factors that may have evolved in your life to create this injury. Hope you enjoyed it. Thanks.

Comments

  1. I have been diagnosed with plantars fasciitis, and my podiatrist gave me orthotics. At the time, I was training for a half marathon and continued training for the half without the orthotics, because I didn’t want to make any changes until after I did the half. I am new to running; I started about a year ago. After I completed my half marathon, I decided it would be good to start training with my orthotics. I am starting marathon training. Since running with the orthotics (my longest run so far has been only 5 miles), I have developed posterior shin splints. I am also running in shoes that provide stability. I am thinking, after a fairly painful 3 mile run, that I should get rid of the orthotics. As a 41 year old female with 2 kids and all the usual aches and pains that go along with being my age, weight, gender, etc., do you recommend that I go with a lower profile shoe as well? The one thing the stable shoes seems to have helped with is my hip, which always hurts but seems to hurt less with the stability shoes. Also, how long should I massage the tender parts of my shin splints?

    • I believe that everybody can benefit from minimalist-type shoes and being barefoot as much as possible, at least walking around the house. It may take time for you to strengthen your feet and calf muscles since you’ve been in stability shoes for so long, so don’t go right to 100% minimalist shoes. Slowly transition into them. I think the Nike Free Plus is a good transition shoe, and many other companies like Saucony (Kinvara) have similar trans shoes. Go barefoot at home and work as much as you can and eventually you’ll be able to work your way to 100% min-type shoes as long as the other factors aren’t weakening your feet – such as adrenal gland and dietary issues as I discuss here.

      Massage the sore spots for a couple minutes 2-3X a day and continue to do so if they get less and less sore. But if there is some underlying factor (poor footwear, stress) that is causing them to be a problem, they will continue to be sore.

      Good luck!
      SD

      • Thanks! Funny you mention the Nike Frees. After reading your post about treatment of shin splints (but before you replied to my comment), I went out a bought a pair. I’m for sure going to take the orthotics out of my regular running shoes, as I’m convinced they’re the cause of my shin splints. Then I’ll transition slowly into the Frees. I will read your info about diet; I look forward to it. A friend of mine who is an eastern medicine doctor also indicated that if I wrap my shins in castor oil-soaked cloth, wrap with saran wrap, and then apply heat for 30 minutes, I can cure myself of the splints in 3 – 4 days. I’ll let you (and other readers, I hope) know how that turns out.

  2. Hello: I have pain ON the bones in both shins. I am training for only a 5K and starting to run 2 miles and 3 miles straight, not fast, about 11:35-minute mile, and I land on the balls of my feet, not on the heel. I did buy some minimalist shoes and ran 1 mile in them, and that is when my shins began to hurt the most. Then I returned them. I am wondering if I do have shin splints..the muscles are not sore, it is the bone. I am 56 and just started running last year and really enjoy it. I am doing a Nutritional Balancing program and trying to minimalize stress. Could you please advise me on treatment and if I should go back to the minimalist (they were Green something something shoes) and just walk in them? Please advise!! Thanks so much.

    • I discuss transitioning into min and barefoot here: http://sock-doc.com/2012/03/healthy-people-barefoot-people/.
      If you feel like going to minimalist caused problems, then probably too soon. However, I’m surprised that you say (or think) you land on the balls of your feet and then the min shoes caused a problem – because they should have basically kept you on the forefoot. Strange. Though, some shoes don’t work for certain people. I mention that although I think VFFs are great shoes and good for a lot of people, I can’t run more than 30 mins in them w/o pain. I can run barefoot for hours. That’s how it is.

      Pain on the shins could be the fascial connections of the muscles. Usually you’re stressing the muscles and feeling it in the bones, but since I can’t tell you exactly what is going on via the internet all I can say other than that is to be smart about it because if it is really on your shins then you could develop a stress fx if you keep it up.

  3. Glamgirl says:

    Thanks for the advice – I am definitely going to try this as I have tried the stretching and it’s only a temporary thing and not getting me any better. I have a sore spot about 3 inches up from my left ankle and I think that could be a point so will try massage and see how it goes.

    I’ve only been running for a few months (started in February) and have my first 10km race tomorrow so might have left it a bit late for the shin pains I know I’m going to get :) but will take your advice for future training and see how it goes.

    Thanks again

  4. David O' Connell says:

    Hello Soc Doctor,
    >
    > It has been an absolute pleasure reading your website and learning about your philosophy.
    >
    > I’m a 38 year-old Irishguy living in the Basque country in Spain. I am a triathlete and I have been a long term sufferer of shin splints. Part of my problem is definitely stress ( I used to suffer from backpain but by miracle I learnt about TMS and now my back is PERFECT).
    > I love to run but I am always hampered by pain in the tibialis posterior muscle,ie just under in the inner side of the tibia bone.
    >
    > I saw you on youtube and you say not to stretch and ice but instead gently massage the trigger points but how do I prevent them from coming back. As a result of the book ” Born to run” I have started going bare foot around the house, SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY, and running in minimalist runners. Do I need to address a muscle imbalance by strenghtening the Tibialis Anterior muscle ? or generally do lower leg exercises to build up all the muscles.
    >
    > Apologies for the long mail as I’m sure you’re a busy man but I’m desperate for a solution.
    >
    > Many thanks Dave

  5. Chris Rasmussen says:

    I’m a 54-year-old male who runs 9ish-minute miles, about 25-30 miles per week on average. I developed a neuroma a bit over two years ago on my right foot and was put into orthotics with a hefty (but effective) metatarsal pad. Within a year I had strained adductors on both sides and had to take myself out of two marathons (never began them). A year after I developed the neuroma, while I was down with my first strained adductor, I had a 3/4 nerve decompression surgery, which worked well. A few months ago thanks to a good Graston-trained chiropractor, I ran a marathon and I re-developed some neuroma-like symptoms. I’ve been experiencing some pain ON both shins — left worse than my right. I also have shooting pain in my toe if I plantarflex my left foot (pain does not occur while running, thank God). I would love to walk around barefoot, but the neuroma symptoms make it quite uncomfortable. Question: what can I do to reduce the neuroma symptoms and then begin healing the other areas? I wear traditional running shoes — Brooks Adrenalines are my standard. Thanks so much.

  6. david o' connell says:

    Hello Sock-Doc,

    Dave from Spain here.

    I wrote about my CHRONIC SHIN SPLINTS a few months back . I’m delighted to report that by 1)running correctly using minimalist runners 2) no icing or stretching and 3) frequently massaging my feet with a baking rolling pin I have finally, after 20 years, got rid of my shin splints. I’m competing in triathlons and road races with no problems. THANK YOU.

    I now have knee pain but I hope to solve that by following your advice.

    Many thanks and keep up your invaluable work.

  7. I’m a 34 y/o male who has struggled with shin splints off and on since I began running roughly 3 years ago. My left leg is worse than my right. I have had times when they were severe enough that my shin(s) were actually swollen. Right now I’m going through a rather painful bout of them on both legs.

    Do you think I should massage and continue running through the pain, or massage and wait until they go away. I’m extremely bummed out because I’m about 10 weeks into 1/2 marathon training and running the fastest 5k and 10k times of my life. Additionally my 1/2 marathon is only about 5 weeks away.

    Part of me wonders if the reason I never get over the shin splints is because I always stop running once I get them.

    I’ve been working on my entire gait over the last year. I’ve transitioned to a mid-foot strike, got my cadence up to the upper 80′s per minute (cant quite get to the recommended 90 spm consistently). I have also over the last year gotten out of stability shoes. I currently rotate between Saucony Kinvaras and Brooks Pureflows for progressive and speed work, and Saucony Cortanas for long and recovery runs. I spend nearly all of my time at home barefoot, and at work wear either Merrell Road Gloves or Altra Zero Drop Instincts.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • If you’re running through the pain you’re not doing yourself any favors – possibly increasing damage, other imbalances related to gait, and it’s no fun to run in pain. All those shoes have about a one-inch heel on them. Though they are classified as “minimalist” due to their 4mm drop, they shouldn’t be. Far from it. Could be why you can’t get your cadence up. A cadence of 90 (180) is “natural”, you shouldn’t have to force yourself to get there.

      It might take you some time, (maybe not though since you’re already walking barefoot), but my advice is to get out of those thick shoes. You’re walking barefoot and then you’re in zero-drop Merrells and Altras and then when you go run you put on what are essentially like cinder blocks to your feet.

    • david o' connell says:

      Hey ,

      I can feel your frustration and pain. My advice(based on my experience and sock doc’s advice) is don’t stretch or ice them, use a rolling pin to massage your feet and look at the advice on the sock doc site, trigger points etc..Are you doing too much anaerobic training? minimalist running shouldn’t cause such pain. It could be due to stress, as was and sometimes still is a cause of my problems.

      best of luck

  8. Thanks for the prompt response. What are your feelings about Newton running shoes and their zero drop? Do you think those would work as well as a minimalist shoe? The reason I ask is I feel (maybe incorrectly) that I do need some cushioning.

    I know you are averse to strectching, what are your feelings on foam rollers and “the stick” type apparatus’s? Do you feel they provide the sort of massage that I would need. I have begun using both of those religously.

    I had some achilles issues in early spring, so that sort of scared me away from running in a complete zero drop, but now is probably as good a time as any to begin that transition.

    @ David, I dont now if I’m doing “too” much anaerobic training. I typically have one hard workout a week which consists of a 15 minute warm-up, and then 40 minutes progressive, and then a 15 minute cool down. It is a very tough workout. A day or 2 before that at the end of one of my easy runs I do 10 x 10 second hill repeats. The repeats definitely get me anaerobic, but the rest of the run is fairly tame.

    I do have a ridged foam roller that I use on my legs in general, but admittedly I have never used them on my feet. Definitely something I will begin immediately.

    Thanks Gents,
    Ronnie

    • I personally haven’t had much success with Newton. Just what I’ve seen. Personally I’d go with a different type though I’m not bashing Newton – they’re a good group of people with a great concept. I just wish there was ‘less shoe’.

      Foam rolling and The Stick are fine; I actually show the Stick in one of my videos.

  9. Thanks for the advice.
    I had another question. I havent run since 9.9.12 due to my shin splints, and oddly enough my shins seem to be more sore and tender now than when I was running. Is that normal? I’ve been massaging sore spots a few minutes 2 or 3 times a day, but the soreness persist.
    Do you have a recommendation for a good minimalist shoe? Since I already have the Altras and the Merrell Road Gloves do you think I should just give those a shot? Also, do you recommend that I wait until the pain in my shins has completely subsided before I start running again?

    Thanks again,
    Ronnie

    • I don’t know why your shins would actually be more sore now that you’re not running – unless you’re irritating them with the trigger point work. Remember, as I mention in the trigger point post – if you’re not improving then you’re not addressing why you have the trigger points. Probably this is the case with you. And yes you might as well try the shoes you already have.

  10. In one of your earlier responses to me you stated that you show the stick in one of your vids. I cant seem to find that particular video. Could you direct me to it?

    Thanks again,
    Ronnie

  11. Sock Doc,

    I am hoping you can help. I am a 35 year old female who is physically active, I lift weights 3 x week and walk for exercise. I have been noticing over the past two years that I am developing small bumps along the shins of both of my legs. They are in a straight line and I have 4 or 5 / leg. There is no pain, no discolouration just small round soft bumps under the skin.
    If my legs are relaxed you hardly notice them but if I stand on my toes and lean forward they protrude and bump out. They never cause any pain and they weren’t detected on my recent ultrasound, x-ray or my MRI.
    They aren’t veins and my doctors thinks they are small fascial tears causing hernias along the tibia. I am hoping you might be able to offer some advice. I would like to heal these tears, treat the weak fascia and was wondering if you have any massage suggestions or ideas of things I could rub on my shins to heal them. I read that castor oil might be an option?

    Your thoughts are appreciated!

    • Yeah I’d say that the fascial issue is a good bet, it’s not uncommon. So you can try the trigger points that I show in this and the other videos and see if they help. I don’t think castor oil will add any benefit though.

  12. Unbelievable doc. I thought I tore my calf muscle an I hadnt ! Did the pressure points instructions from the video and I can actually put pressure on my leg again! I knew I had shin spints but I had felt severe pain in my calf on my 20mi training run. Toughed through it and haven’t walked rihgt since. Felt it give on about mile 8 of the marathon and by the half way point I was dragging the leg. . Litterally. Do you think I injred my calf as well or can shin slints litterally cause severe pain the calf as well? Btw thank you for the instructions, I’ve gotten horrible advice on how to treat this issue.

    • Either could cause the problem – it’s an imbalance between your calves and tib anterior (shin muscle).
      Whenever your training run is painful you bail, no matter what your plans were.

  13. Dear Sock Doc. I’m a 59 year old woman who is trying to train as a fitness teacher at my late age! For the last 5 weeks I have had bad shin splints on both legs and achilles tendonitis and a sore lateral knee ligament on one leg. I’m going to do the trigger points as shown in your video because as you say, icing and stretching don’t work. I really believe in bare feet as you do and it pains me to see all these children forced into shoes at an early age. In Africa where I live, shoes are an important status symbol indicating you are not poor, so whereas you often see white children going barefoot, it is rare to see black kids walking barefoot anymore. When I was a kid nobody wore shoes in Africa! Everyone was a natural athlete. Please start a world-wide campaign for bare feet so our kids’ feet can develop normally. Thank you so much for you advice and help.

    • Hi Terry – thanks for your comment from Africa! I’ve heard about the footwear status issue in many other parts of the world too, such as India. It’s too bad, though I understand how it can be perceived that way. People in many parts of the world used to think if you had a fat belly then you were one of wealth!

  14. I have found all this very interesting, I have suffered with MTSS on my prosterior side of both shins now for two years. I tried going barefoot once and it didnt seem to work so great but may not have given it long enough. However my sport is football/soccer so i cannot play barefoot i must wear boots obviously so what i was thinking to start would be just to walk as much as possible in barefoot then wear shoes for excersise outside of that??

    Secondly I wear orthotics which are specifically made for my foot i think they have helped however no where near a cure. I can train twice a week tops without pain. And i know you are against orthotics but what i want to ask you is when i first got shin splints i wasn’t wearing orthotics so it cannot possibly have been them that caused it so you can understand the difficulty i have getting my head round taking my orthotics out completely ??

    Also is there any strengthening excersises you can tell me which will therefore make the transition from orthotics to no orthotics easier ??

    Sorry for all the questions would much appreciate your views on this because I’m only twenty and i can only play twice a week ???

  15. Laetitia says:

    Hi there,
    I am an 31 year old female, used to run daily (in the conventional running shoes) until mid last year, when I got a metatarsal stress-fracture. After getting out of the cast in September last year I refused to believe that I need orthotics and did a lot of reading on the whole barefoot-running and minimalistic shoewear. I did a lot of foot-exercises, elliptical, heel-raises and what not to strengthen my feet again and did a lot of walking daily until I tried introducing running back into my routine. I started with twice a week 20 minutes, which was giving me sore calves at the beginning in minimalist shoes (4 mm drop), so I did some massaging and took it slow. After doing it for about three weeks I went to do it three times a week and developed pain on the medial side of the tibia. So I stopped running altogether for 12 days, then tried again, but the pain would come back again.. not too bad, but I felt if I go out within the next few days after that, it would get worse. Calves are not sore anymore, am still doing a lot of walking (up to 2 hours +) everyday in zero drop shoes.
    Question is now: do I need to stop running for longer to completely heal things, and for how long roughly? Or do I just wait a few days more inbetween the next running trials and massage more?
    I really do not want to go back to wearing heeled trainers…. so I’d appreciate any tips! Thank you!!

  16. Thanks for the video, I wish you had a clinic in the UK so I could come see you!

    I started running 2 years ago in VFF’s and got up to doing half marathons with no issues. Started off slow and I’d never previously run in traditional shoes so found a high cadence light midfoot landing just came naturally to me.

    For the past 6 months I’ve been struggling with a painful left shin on the inside 3-4 inches from the ankle bone. On the flat part of the bone it’s fine, but very painful on the inside part of the bone when pressed on (and also after about 3 miles running). The muscle itself there feels fine, it’s on the “sharp” inside of the shin bone for lack of a medical term!

    I haven’t run in weeks now but it’s still sore to touch. I’m going to follow your video and rub down both legs looking for trigger points in the calf muscles, as I have read that where it is sore there is a muscle that attaches to the bone, and wondering if something tight could be keeping tension on it. Do you think this sounds likely or could I be looking at a stress fracture :(

    I missed our half marathon on the weekend due to this and it’s getting me down not being able to get outside and get the lungs working!

    Thanks again for all the time you’ve spent on this site – really glad I found it.

    Adam

    • Sure that could be a stress fracture. Impossible for me to know. Sometimes even an early X-Ray will miss them. Check out the article on this SD site about stress fractures.

      • Thanks Steve,

        The physio here has now diagnosed it as medial tibial periostitis, which seems to make sense. He’s working on relieving a lot of tightness down the outside of my leg (from hip right down to ankle), which might be causing some rotation.

        I’m asking for your opinion again, as he has suggested getting a pair of “normal” running trainers rather than VFF’s or minimalist running shoes to help me ease back into running after 2 months off. He thinks this will help reduce impact and also that the heel lift will reduce stress on the area I’m having the problem with. Once I’m back upto a decent mileage I can then start introducing minimalist shoes again.

        This goes against my instincts, but if it’s short term and works then I’m prepared to do it. Can you see that this might help, or think of any reason why I shouldn’t give it a try? I suppose it will mean getting an analysis done on a treadmill etc at the shop, which will feel a bit deflating after previously running 10-13 miles regularly in VFF’s with no problems!

        Very keen to hear your thoughts if you get time to reply. Thanks a lot.

        Adam

        • I have had to get people out of zero-drop type shoes and into a 4mm drop to help them heal up. It’s good advice. But I don’t think that one should go to a “traditional” high stack height/drop shoe with a lot of cushion – that’s backwards thinking.

          I’ve also seen patients get out of VFF and into a zero-drop shoe and be better for it. Personally I can’t wear VFFs, they screw up my gait.

          • Thanks Steve, it’s a relief to hear you agree with the heel raising for now so I’ll definitely go along with that. Inov8′s Road-X 255 has 6mm cushion & 6mm or 9mm drop so those might be a good half way option.

            Interesting that you don’t get on with the VFF’s, I did hundreds of miles in mine with no problems and only developed the shin pain when changing into Merrell road gloves. Crazy how the smallest changes can have such an effect when on paper they’re pretty much the same shoe.

            All the best, Adam

  17. Hello Sock Doc,

    I am wondering if transitional shoes are viable for people with flat feet.

    I visited a podiatrist who sold me a pair of orthotics (wish I found this article earlier to save myself the money). The podiatrist said that because I have flat feet, I will want to wear shoes with A LOT of support. But reading some of the articles here, it seems that going bare foot or wearing vibrams is what we want to shoot for.

    So is it a misconception that people with flat feet shouldn’t wear transitional shoes?

    Also, I train in muay thai and I am always jumping up and down barefoot. Overtime, this lead to shin splints. I really want to compete and don’t want to stop training. Do you have an advice for this situation? And yes, I just started doing trigger point massages.

  18. Oh, one more thing.

    Should I be doing shin strengthening exercises? I have been told by several people to strengthen my shin muscles.

    Thank you very much! I appreciate what you’re doing here.

  19. im working on a wonderopolis in school and your info really helped me and my partner

  20. Just read your shin splint article- right on!! I have enough medical knowledge to completely understand your excellent video. My problem was due mainly to shoes. My right hiking shoe crunched my toes and hurt during the hike. In addition, it’s been 2 months since previous hike & also had a weight gain of 10+ lbs. Although the hike wasn’t too strenuous, all these factors contributed to the strain. i followed your massaging of the pressure points & it work very well. I’m going to search for a video that explains stretching and improving strength in these and other leg muscles.

    Thank you = Jeff

  21. Does anyone out there know of Sock Doc videos regarding strengthening lower leg muscles to prevent shin splints?

  22. Hi,

    I just started walking 4 days a week about 3 weeks ago and the front of my lower leg burns! I’m really discouraged. I walk outside and it is very hilly where I live. It’s a good workout . I am only 5 feet 1 inch tall. I am walking at a 3.2-3.3 mile speed and was going about 2.2 miles. The last few days I have had to cut it short 1.4 miles because of the burn. I am a hairdresser and stand for 10-12 hours 4 days a week. I am sure my legs are tight so I have been stretching. I use REEBOK ZIGZAGS should I get a more minimal shoe? it makes sense in your video the heel on my shoe is pretty high and coming down just like you said in the video.

    Thanks for the help!!

  23. I haven’t had shin splints since high school — but I do recall how much they HURT. One of my teammates even got frostbite from all ice packs!

    Anyhow, I’m trying to get healthier feet (mod. bunions, fallen arches, and numbness/pricklies in both middle toes) by following the advice on your excellent site.

    Question about this video. When you mention tenderness and trigger points — specifically along the tibia starting around 3:33 — how much soreness indicates “yes, there’s a problem here”? Because when I press moderately hard along the tibia, where the muscle joins it, it feels like I’m pressing on a bruise. I thought that was normal? Is it?

    PS, love your videos, they really help explain the concepts!

    • You have to distinguish between “therapeutic” soreness and damaging pain/soreness. The therapeutic type should feel better when you’re done. = less pain = better mobility.

  24. Hi doc, first off I’ll say I hope to be a chiropractor much like yourself someday, dealing with athletes and the power of barefoot. I have had shin splints for almost a year now, I play basketball and run track (highschool). During basketball I had gotten some new shoes which were very narrow, and after having to play in them (only pair I brought to a camp), I developed shin splints and have had them since. I sat the bench for basically the whole basketball season, trying to rest them. Since then, I go barefoot whenever possible, ran track in my merrell bare access ‘minimalist’ shoes. During track, I still had the shin pain (posterior mainly), but ran through it the majority of the season. Now that school is over, I am back to basketball (Nike Hyperdunk shoes), I have looked a lot into options for minimalist basketball shoes, but because of the massive ground & pound, as well as pivoting/lateral movement, I have to stay with basketball purpose shoes, but I for sure focus on when running, I run midfoot still. NEVER heel strike.

    For treatment of my shins, I have seen your video and haven’t iced since track season anyways. I am trying to break the habit of stretching my lower leg in all directions while sitting. I remember during the track season my chiropractor massaging my shins, a “deep tissue massage”. I am beginning to do this on my shins now, when during the day do you recommend – Morning/night, before/after physical activity? I am also beginning to try and train in xero shoes but the shins are still there! I have seen rolling a baking pin on the bottom of the foot – what about a golf ball(that’s what my chiropractor recommended)?
    Thanks for all your help Doc!
    -Bryce

    • Check out the trigger point article. You shouldn’t have too keep working the trigger points just to get by. If you do/are then you’re missing whatever is causing the muscles imbalances.

  25. hello sir,
    i am a 34 year old male, 200 lbs, i have been running and training all my life.
    i was national champion in judo, been training since the age of 6.
    at the age of 26, out of the blue, i started to feel a sharp pain in my inner shins,
    both sides, not on the bone but on the soft tissue.
    i was diagnosed with shinsplints.
    i have gone through , ice, ice massage, cortisone shots, stretching , changing shoes , orthotics,
    and still, 8 years later, the pain is still here.
    i have gone through 2 operations to separate the tibialis posterior from the shin bone, didnt help.
    last opp was 3 months ago.
    i have on each side 3 or 4 trigger points that wont go away, and make my life a living hell.
    im writing you from israel, thanks to technology maybe we could have a skype “appointment “.
    thank you.
    tomer