Forget shin pain — follow these 3 tips for a pain-free running experience

a woman taking a large running stride
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Ever had to cut a run short because of shin pain? We have good news — you don’t need to suffer through the discomfort or give up running altogether. You just need to pay a little more attention to your shins.

It’s worth noting that those who experience pain in their shins while running are not alone. Research from the National Library of Medicine in the UK reports that exercise induced pain accounts for 10-20% of all runner injuries and is responsible for 60% of all lower limb overuse injuries. But how can we lessen our risk of adding to these numbers?

Well, thanks to physio and running coach Jimmy Pipe, there are a few measures you can take. Pipe recently shared on his Instagram three tips designed for building more resilience in your lower limbs and improving your running form to stave off unwanted shin pain.  

Three tips for preventing shin pain

If you choose to ignore shin pain while running then you can bet that things will worsen. Instead, you can reduce the risk of developing shin splints and continue to enjoy your running without interruption using Pipe's professional advice. Here's what he recommends.

1. Strengthen the muscle in your shin

Pipe's first top tip for preventing shin splints is to focus on building strength in your tibialis interior. This is the largest muscle located in the front of your leg. Pipe informs in his video, "We can either do it with bodyweight or we can do it weighted."

In the video, Pipe shows himself leaning his rear against a wall. Keeping his heels planted on the ground he raises the rest of his feet off the ground before lowering again and then repeats this motion.

In a separate exercise, he works with a kettlebell to strengthen his tibialis interior. Sitting on a bench he stretches one leg along the bench, leaving his ankle and foot hanging off the bench meanwhile the other leg is bent and planted on the floor. The leg on the bench has a kettlebell hooked onto the foot and he slowly flexes the foot up toward the ceiling, repeating an up and down movement. 

Training with the best kettlebells is a great way to strengthen and condition as a runner. You can also look to strengthen your glutes, quads and hamstrings with these kettlebell exercises for runners.

2. Strengthen the muscle in your calf

The soleus muscle plays a key role in your calf muscle. It works hard when your foot lands on the ground and the weight of your body passes over the ankle. Hence why Pipe recommends strengthening your soleus as part of a well-rounded leg training program. 

He also provides an exercise that can help to improve strength in your soleus muscle. He demonstrates this in the video showing himself sitting on a workout bench with a weighted ball on one thigh. He moves that leg up and down with his foot, keeping the front of his foot planted on the ground.

3. Avoid over striding

"Lastly," says Pipe in the video, "Make sure you’re not overstriding."

"If you land the foot out in front, you’re putting more stress in front of the shin and in front of the knee. So make sure we’re working hard to land that foot underneath you in your strides."

If you aren't sure if you are overstriding or not when you run, it might help to go to a running shop to get your gait analyzed. This will help you to understand your running mechanics better and identify any problems that could be contributing to shin pain.

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.