Acute Shin Splints After A 5k Run, Extreme Pain

by Allyson

I have no formal running training, but enjoy a 1.5-3.5 mile run every few days.

I ran a 5k on Sunday and since then have had terrible shin splints that hurt so bad I can't go up or down stairs without extreme pain.

It is now Friday and even when I lie down the pain doesn't go away. I may not be stretching properly, and I have run through the pain when I had it in the past, but I need relief asap, this is the worst they've ever been.

At this point, is heat better than ice? When can I expect the pain to go away?

When can I start running again?

How do I prevent this from happening again?


Joshua Answers

Hi Allyson. Welcome to the wonderful world of II hope my shin splints will go away."

You ran, it hurt, it went away, you ran, it hurt, it went away, you ran OUCH I CAN'T RUN.

Been there. I know that pain.

I don't think heat is better than cold. Right now you have acute inflammation and swelling in the tissue.

Heat brings blood to the area. WHich feels good because it's full of nutrition and oxygen. But they you're left with extra fluid, which increases teh feeling of pressure and makes it harder for nutrition to swing through that fluid to it's target cells.

Ice. Ice flushes fluid out of the area, then the body pushes new blood back in.

Right now, you want -circulation-, and LOTS of it. Old stuff out, new stuff in. That old stuff is making it hurt.

You've slowly developed a Tendonitis dynamic.

You took it past the threshold and now have ACUTE Shin Splint Tendonitis and ACUTE Inflammation.

Right now you primarily want to knock out the inflammation.

Get a 5 gallon bucket or equivelent. Fill with water and frozen water bottles. Dip the leg, getting the water as high up the leg as possible.

Dip for 10-20 seconds. As many times as you can. YOu are in acute pain. The more you dip, the faster the pain will go away. Can you get 50 dips in? 70?

For the next 3 days, Ice Dip like your (pain-free) life depends on it. You may not notice much difference at first, but there's a lot going on underneath the surface of the skin.

When can you start running again? It depends on how motivated you are to do the self care.

First things first, one thing at a time, Ice Dip like crazy.

When will the pain go away? It may take longer than 3 days to drop the acute pain down, depending on how acute it is, and, it really is a function of how much work you do on the front end.

Then the pain will be gone or mostly gone, but if you run it will JUMP right back. You're looking at a good 2-4 weeks of no running and solid self care. Depending on several variables, it could be more, it could be less.

And take it easy on your feet. Remove as much irritation to the acute phase as possible, this will help the icing knock out the inflammation.


1. How old are you?

2. Overall health?

3. Overall diet?

4. History of injury?

5. How long has this shin splint issue been developing?

6. When you were running through the pain, how bad was the pain?

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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