Calf & Shin Pain?

Q: How can I get past calf and shin pain?

– Rebekah Ferguson-Powers

shin-splintsYou’re probably experiencing pain because you’re not wearing the right shoes, you increased your mileage too quickly, and/or you’re not stretching properly, says running coach Andrew Kastor.

First, take a couple of rest days. Then go to a specialist running-shoe shop to ensure your shoes are suited to your foot type and running style.

Scale back your mileage for a couple of weeks; and when you increase it, do so by no more than 10 per cent – or less – each week. After every run, stretch your quads, hip flexors, and calves.

If pain persists, take more rest days, ice your calves for 10 to 20 minutes after each run, and massage them (with hands or a foam roller) for several minutes, two to three times a week.

Reader Tip “Once I strengthened the stabilising muscles around my shins, the pain went away.” – Elizabeth Huff

Visit the Runner’s World Injury Tool here >>

20 Responses to Calf & Shin Pain?

  1. Rachel Davies 1 July 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    On the shoe front…your body has all the technology you need so get a shoe that let’s your foot do its thing.

    Then learn the skill of running, it’s a skill after all, so it needs perfecting.

    Concentrate on posture, rhythm and relaxation and landing underneath your centre of gravity (not out in front of you).

    Lee Saxby has great training resources that focus on the basic biomechanics of human movement and are hard to argue with, check ‘em out!

  2. Danie 1 July 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    Taking a Magnesium supplement and proper stretching sorted me out.

    • Jean-Pierre 3 October 2013 at 4:03 pm #

      Compression socks for some reason worked for me.

      • Brenda 21 February 2015 at 1:49 pm #

        They worked for me too.

    • Albert de Beer 11 February 2015 at 12:54 pm #

      Maybe Runners World can again give us a worthwhile stretching programme – or guidelines in that regard. I seem not to get it right. Or can a reader refer me to some programme or guidelines?

  3. Priscilla Madlala 30 January 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    Strecth and use hot water to reduce pain and after that massage with Arnica oil,then you will feel the pain go away.

  4. Thabo Mofokeng 2 February 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    I used to experience excruciating pain on both my calves and shins. I was not aware what thecause of this was until I bought new running shoes which are designed to fit me perfectly. From then onwards I’ve never had a prolem. I’m not much of a supplements user but I do believe they are needed for one’s recuperation.

    • Nazlie 14 April 2014 at 4:25 pm #

      @ Thabo, please advise which running shoes you bought as the anti-pronatic asics takkies i bought didnt do the trick…

  5. Nadia 4 February 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    I battled terribly with shin splints went to have dry needling done, worked like a bomb however the Physio advised me, NOT to massage your shin splints as it is actually the membrane on your bone that is inflamed, rubbing/massaging your leg will cause the membrane to splint. I also ice and stretch after every training session and it really makes a huge difference. Happy running everyone.

  6. kotane 8 February 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    I give myself enough rest after each race and i use iceblocks to relax the muscles after the race.

  7. Elli 23 February 2014 at 8:09 pm #

    Ok this is great advise (specialist running-shoe shop) BUT my question is WHERE can i find these places do you by any chance have a list that I can have a look at?

    Please your assistance is much apreciated!

    Kind regards Elli

  8. Ricky 24 February 2014 at 12:07 pm #

    I’m 38 and I started running this year after many, many years. I started getting terrible shin pain at the start of February and took your advice but its persisted. I was up to 3km but now can hardly run 500m any other ideas.

    • Gayle 13 March 2014 at 9:18 pm #

      Try changing your shoes to a more flexible sole type. With one brand (2pairs) I lived through 2 excruciating years of shin pain. When I changed to new balance the pain vanished. I thought I was just lucky. But when all my shoes were stolen and I only had the one previous pair left and used them again, back was the pain immediately. Only then did I realise it was the shoes. The toe tip must be able to fold up so that the heel top can be touched. End to the pain. Stretch the shins as well .

    • Peter 10 June 2014 at 5:44 am #

      Hi Ricky, I strongly advise you to get dry needling done on your calf muscle(s) to sort out shin splints. I was advised to stretch etc to help my shin splints but it didn’t work. My calf muscles also felt sore and tight when I rolled them on a foam roller. I did dry needling, then stretched the muscle straight after, and felt the inflamed edge of the bone become less sensitive by the day. That was two years ago and I haven’t had a problem since. Hope it works for you. Worth googling/reading up on: dry needling and the twitch response it produces to release the tightened muscle, trigger points (the problem dry needling fixes). Best of luck. Peter

  9. Anne 17 March 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    @Elli – not sure where in SA you are, but The Sweat Shop in Fourways helped me out with that. Craig was extremely helpful and patient, making sure I got the right shoe. :-)

  10. Staoan Molaudi 22 May 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    Shoes shoes shoes.

  11. Paige Westbrook 11 June 2014 at 4:34 am #

    My doctor recommended a golf ball muscle roller which i use before and after i run, wow what a difference!! Everyone runner needs one,night and day difference!

  12. Leslie 27 January 2015 at 2:00 am #

    I get about twice a year immediate and massive pain in my calves ( called calf attack like a heart attack in the calf ) and cannot continue and walk slowly ( or catch a taxi home ) I rest for about a week then return to running with an elastic bandage tightly drawn over the exact spot. Then slowly start running again. It’s frustrating of course but and here is the key. Don’t worry about it. Injuries are part and parcel of running. No matter what you do ( what shoes you buy, how much you stretch ) if you are a constant runner you will get injured sooner or later and most times for no reason what so ever…

  13. Cheri 30 January 2015 at 9:47 pm #

    I am 46yrs old and started running +_ 5 months ago. I have found that some nights after I have run my legs don’t have that stiff exercise pain but rather a deep ache which makes sleeping difficult. It feels similar to pain I had when I was growing up and my mom used to say it was ‘growing pains’. To me it seems almost like an arthritis ache would be. It doesn’t happen after every run but I would appreciate any tips on how to treat to avoid it. Thanks

  14. Duncan 1 February 2015 at 10:58 pm #

    Yes there are some good shops out there where you will get good advice, but equally there are others where some guy will sell you whatever makes him the most commission!

    No mention in the article about getting a Biokineticist to take a look? Or a physio with a good rep for treating runners? Should the article not point to some resources on WHY one gets calf / shin pain? Really the article is saying; “Change your shoes OR take a break OR massage and stretch” which is where most people with this type of pain are stuck, do I spend another few thousand on shoes in the hope that it will be fixed?

    Who is Rebekah Ferguson-Powers? Come on, address the topic properly!

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