View Full Version : Running Shoes and Shin Splints -

Ross Hunt
12-06-2004, 02:08 PM

Do those of you who run barefoot or in shoes without an elevated heel experience shin pain? If you do, how do you deal with it?
I run a track workout consisting of 4-5 400 meter sprints twice a week. I perform this run in Chuck Taylors and I have been this program for a month or two. Recently I have experienced some shin pain when running.
Traning program background info: I do O-lifts and assistance exercises three times a week and 400 meter sprints twice a week. I recently switched from doing the OLs barefoot to doing them wearing Chuck Taylors, but I can't imagine that this would make a difference.

Ross Hunt
12-06-2004, 02:45 PM

Could the shin pain be caused by [improperly] performing overhead squats?

I went really heavy last week (for me), and although my weight certainly wasn't on my toes, it wasn't square on my heel either...

Roger Harrell
12-06-2004, 04:49 PM
Shin splints can be eliminated or at least greatly reduced by working the anterior tibialis. Walk around on your heels with your legs tightly straight and lifting your toes hard until the front/outside of your shins fatigue. Stand on a step facing downstairs, with just the edge of your heel on the step in a full toe point, then lift your toes. Do this 40-50 times. Doing this kind of stuff will help a lot. Do NOT do any of this if you have sever shin splints. Let em heal up a bit first.

Steve Shafley
12-08-2004, 08:03 AM
I second Roger's advice. Working your tibialis goes a long way towards preventing now only shin splints, but also keeping the ankle stable during sports activities.

Brian Hand
12-08-2004, 09:03 AM
Ross, if you are going to run in Chucks, I think you have to watch your heel strike, you don't want to slam down on your heel. If you run barefoot you might learn this just by doing what comes naturally and doesn't hurt! I don't think you'll ever do your fastest sprints this way but if you're going to focus on times I don't think Chucks are the right shoe.

Justin Jacobsen
12-09-2004, 12:29 PM
I second what Brian is saying. You are having problems because your form is wrong. You should be running ball-heel-ball not heel-toe. The impact should be absorbed throughout your whole leg utilizing the elastic tension of your muscles.

Running this way is actually more efficient, but its going to absolutely fry those muscles that aren't used to it at first.

Ross Hunt
12-11-2004, 03:22 PM
Roger and Steve,

Thank you very much. I will start working the tibialis in a week or two, as soon as my shins feel a little more solid.

Brian, Justin, et al.,

That's what I was afraid of.

Have the two of you been able to master the toe-heel-toe strike pattern advocated by the Running Barefoot site?
I tried, for a little while, but found that I could not run fast using that form: I could sprint (striking toe-only), and I could jog (striking toe-only or toe-heel-toe), but I couldn't run fast (rocking back onto my heel killed any momentum I might have acquired). Maybe I just didn't devote enough time and effort to learning the technique.

Is it possible to run fast 400s with toe-heel-toe stride? How fast have you gone?

Thank you for your advice,


Brian Hand
12-12-2004, 06:54 AM
Ross, it seems like I just can't get the stride length I'd need for good speed without that troublesome heel strike. I can live with being a little (or a lot) slow in the 400m.

Justin Jacobsen
12-13-2004, 04:24 AM
Not by any means am I claiming to be a good sprinter, but I have seen some good improvements in my 5k with greatly reduced injury rates.

It would be easier to judge if I could see you run, but here are some ideas.

If you can find a soft surface, run a few 400's actually barefoot. You will learn really quickly that you can't run with a heel-toe motion. You will bruise your heels and not be able to run for a week if you try.

This stride is a pushing motion, not a pulling motion. Your stride should not extend too much in front of your body. Increase stride length by thrusting back further. This sounds like it could be your main problem.

Changing to this form is going to load your calves and quads even more than normal. Any weakness there will show up as increased times.

Think of your heels as having springs in them. The heel strike is only momentary. Just a slight break in the tension of the calves, not a full on rest.

It took me about a month to get really efficient with this. Absolutely burned up my calves for the first few weeks. I am very happy that I made the change, though. Saving tons of wear and tear on the knees.

Brian Hand
12-13-2004, 06:03 AM
Good info Justin, thanks!

Steve Shafley
12-13-2004, 08:18 AM
There was some interesting discussion on finding your optimal gait on one of Rmax's old forums. Basically I found that by slowing incorporating barefoot running on grass, that I had changed my distance running form significantly, and, I felt, for the better.

Sprinting should be done mostly up on the toes. For sprinting form, you might as well visit www.charliefrancis.com (http://www.charliefrancis.com) and the forums there. It's a very worthwhile place to spend some time.