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Does My Running Form Play a Role in My Shin Splints?

In one of our last blogs, we talked about gait changes, and how speed (S) = stride length (l) X stride frequency (f). As therapists, we are not necessarily trying to get you to forefoot strike, but we are trying to get your foot to land closer to your body in order to decrease some of those forces on the shin and the knee. The question posed was, does your gait & your running form, play a role in shin splints?

The answer is yes, they definitely can play a role in shin splints. We know that if we’re landing further away from our body, then we’re putting more stress through the front part of that shin. We’ve got a greater foot inclination angle, which can lead to more stress on those muscle groups on the front of the shin. If we are landing with our leg out front of our body and our foot at an angle, then what we’re doing is we’re actually applying more force to the front of the shin. What we’re looking for as therapists, is we’re looking to see where your foot is striking, where the middle of the body is and how far apart those two are. If we can get that distance closer, then we know we can decrease the force. The other thing that we’re looking for, is we’re looking to see what the foot angle. As your foot angle increases, it typically means that the shin is not vertical, and that you’re a little bit further away from the body.

If we can get the original position of how where your foot is landing and to change it to a position that is slightly closer to your body – not perfect or right under, but closer – it will help decrease some of that force at the shin. You want to see that the shin is more vertical and the foot angle is less, which in turn should put less force in the front of the shin. There are a lot of different things that go into your shin splints and there’s multiple different injuries that present with shin pain that people think are shin splints, but in general, if you are having that discomfort on the front of your shin, more in that muscle belly and not at that point tenderness on the bone (that’s a common misconception: people, a lot of times, think that a certain bone stress injury is actually shin splints and a lot of times shin splints are actually within the muscle groups) changing your gait and changing your form, can actually give you some benefit and some improvement in symptoms. It can be short lived, but if you’re able to decrease the force at the front of the shin, that can help keep you running while we go into the next phase and start addressing some of those muscle issues.

Today we just focused on continuing to demonstrate how where your landing can affect the force on your shin, and continuing to show that improvement can come from shortening up that stride, getting it closer to center mass and closer to the body. Keeping your shin a little bit more vertical can help decrease that force at the front of the shin, help decrease some of your symptoms and keep you running. Stay tuned, up next we are going to talk more about the strengthening exercises that you can do to decrease some of these symptoms.

Here at Peak Endurance Performance & Physical Therapy we help active adults in the Madison Area get back to the activities they love without pain or limitations. We see people of all ages, ability levels, and individuals trying to get back to a multitude of movements including: getting back into running, women postpartum, CrossFit athletes, climbers, gymnasts, wrestlers, overhead athletes, and your recreational weekend warrior. If you’re looking to get back to the activities that give you meaning, relieve stress, and make you feel like you again, feel free to reach out below and we’ll see if we’re the right fit for you.