Shin splints :( – A fighters nightmare

Those of you that dont know what shin splints are read this link (HERE)

Back in 2008 when i first started training for a fight i was told that i had to do a lot of road running to get my fitness up and to build up my legs. I had done a lot of sprinting at school comps but never any long distance stuff i think the longest i had run in one go would have been 800m. I thought that i would be ok with it all since i had never had any problems running before. So i went to the sports shop and brought my self a pair images (2)of Nike shoes that said running on the label and because they were a cool style. After about 2 months of running between 4-7km each day i started to get a sore ankle ( i thought at the time). I thought that i must have just pulled a muscle or twisted it the wrong way so i just kept trying to run.  Every time i ran the pain just got worse and worse to the point that even when i stopped running i struggled to even walk. One of my training partners at the time said i might have shin splints as he had experienced them before. I went to the doc and he told me i had shin splints and that to rest them. I tried resting for about 2 weeks but as soon as i tried to run again the pain just came straight back like i never stopped running. I had no idea what shin splints really were it was the first time i had ever heard of them so i didn’t really know what to do and the doc wasnt really any help he just said to rest. I couldn’t rest too much because i had a fight coming up and i needed to be fit. I thought i would try some different shoes so i went to the shoe shop and the ladies there told me the shoes i had were the worst for running they had no support. I guess i learnt my first lesson don’t buy shoes because they look cool or because the little sign says running. I got a pair of Adidas shoes that the lady recommend were better for running. I was thinking that with the new shoes all the pain would just stop. The shoes didn’t help at all i was still getting the pain to the point that it was keeping me awake at night with constant throbbing. I tried to just push through the pain training for my fight and run when i could. I had my fight and i won but i was not fit enough due to the lack of running, it was not a good experience. My next fight was coming up and i still couldn’t run i had been trying icing, strapping, stretching,massage & rest but nothing seemed to be working. My trainer at the time didn’t really have much idea at all about them but someone told him to make me do the bike instead of running. The bike was ok i didn’t get pain from the bike but i just didn’t seem to get the same fitness from it as running. I thought i would try to run on sand to see it that would be better but after about 2 min of running i was in so much pain i just broke down i tears. I didn’t know what to do i had tried everything i could think of to try to get rid of these horrible things but it just wasnt working. I had my fight and i was fitter this time which was good but i still needed to be fitter, the bike just wasnt enough. If i knew what i do now back then i think it would have been better but i was new to the sport back then and i had no idea about other ways of getting fit only what my trainer at the time who was an idiot told me. I started to question whether i could be a fighter with this condition it just made everything so much harder and so painful. I decided to try to just push through as much as i could and do whatever i could to try to get fit enough to fight. I moved gyms under a new trainer and kept on fighting. The next few fights were really hard especially when i went from 3 round fights to 5 round fights. I had now developed stress fractures through leg_shinsplints_cause02my shin bones. The metal anxiety of knowing that my opponent is going to be fitter and knowing they have done more running than me. The feeling of knowing im going to gas out is horrible! wondering if my leg is just going to snap when i kick or block due to the stress fractures in my shin bone. It all really affected my confidants and it put a fear into me that i have never been able to come back from. Some nights i would come home from training and just lay on the ground with my legs up on the bed throbbing in excruciating pain while i bawl my eyes out. Waking up every night with throbbing aching pain and not even being able to have the blankets touching my legs because it hurt so much :(. Fighting my fights on pure push because i was never fit enough as sometime i couldn’t run at all before my fights. This really played on me everyday and for every fight just wondering if im going to get bashed because im not fit enough. There is no worse feeling than being in the ring and not being fit enough to hold your hands up or to fight back and do the things you need to do while your opponent is fit and moving around.  I went to the doctors again and all they kept saying was rest but this just wasnt possible for me if i wanted to continue b_13_4_6afighting, plus i tried rest and it didn’t work. I ended up cracking my shin bone in one of my fights as my shin bones were so weak now and not being able to walk on it for over ages. Not being able to kick pads without a shinpad on for years and still now having a big calcified lump on my shin that constantly hurts all the time, that i havent been able to kick pads with for a long time now as it just hurts too much. I just fight with it and it gets really banged each time and to try to help it heel as much as i can by just avoid any kicking with it. It sux big time but it’s just what i have to do to keep active as a fighter. So i had these things for nearly 2 years now i tried all sorts of things to help but i was sure they were just here to stay. someone told me acupuncture worked so i did that for a while but nothing came of it. I decided to go see a foot doctor who told me that it could be from my feet rolling in. She told me to only wear ASICs kayano’s and to get some carbon fiber inner soles made. So $700 later i had new shoes and carbon fiber inner soles. The first few time i ran they really hurt the bottoms of my feet as where my feet were trying to roll in they were now being held up by the inner soles. After a few weeks i felt like they did start to help a bit, i still had the pain but it wasnt as bad some days. I noticed that where i had been running was uneven surface so i changed that as well which asics-gel-kayano-19-womensseemed to help also not running up or down to many steep hills. I managed to keep them at a level of pain i could sort of put up with long enough to be able to run maybe 3 weeks out from a fight. It still wasnt good enough but it was better than before. Every now and then if i pushed to hard ran to many long distance runs in a row they would flare right up and i would end up not being able to run for a week which happened a bit before some of my fights. I put up with this for another 2 years because i thought i had done everything i could and that the pain was not going to get any better than this. When i went to train in Thailand  the first gym i went to expected me to run up this big mountain everyday i tried to for the first week and then the shin splints came on really bad. I’m not sure if Thai people even get shin splints at all because they didn’t seem to understand what i was trying to tell them and they thought i was just trying to be lazy when i said i wanted to run on the flat road. The time that i was there my shins got really bad running on uneven surface and running to many long distance runs. In the end i had to run a different way to everyone else i had to find my own track that was even road surface and not to many steep hills, i could only run 4-6km at one time. I was getting a hard time by the Thai trainers they would ask me why i wasnt doing what they said and say that i pronatiowas lazy but they just didnt understand. I think one of the worse things about having shin splints is the fact that you cant seen them. Its so hard to explain to people who have never had them why they hurt so much and how they cripple you but you cant even see them there is no marks or bruises. I started to get it worked out that running sorter distance but running 2 or 3 time a day was better. I started to notice when my shoes needed to be changed by the pain level i would get normally would be every 3 months. It was getting expensive but it was helping with the pain so i just did what i had to do. I had a break from fighting for about 14 months so i gave my shins a big rest that whole time. Then back to Thailand again to fight. I started doing the same routine i was doing before running 4km in morning and 4km in afternoon and then the shin splints just started up like they never left. By this stage i had been training for a few years so i had picked up all sorts of info along the way. Someone told me to check my running technique a while back but i never thought there was anything wrong with it i thought i ran fine. I had downloaded a book of stretching to do to help and it said running technique was one of the main problems so i thought i would check out some proper running technique videos on you tube. To my surprise my running technique was shocking compared to what was correct. I tried to change it straight away but it was harder than i thought. It took me about 2-3 weeks to build up to running 4km with the proper technique. I really had to concentrate on where my feet were hitting the ground and not to heel strike, where to hold my arms and to keep my back straight. I would find my self getting a lot more tired and i would try to go back to my old running style when i got tired so i had to really focus on not doing it. It took me a while to get my speed up again too. After about a month i felt like it was becoming more natural but i still have to focus on not letting it slip back when i was tired. It was worth it though because since changing my running technique I have not had shin splints!! I think it’s a combination of the running technique, ASICs Kayanos changed runningevery 3 months of running, inner soles, breaking my runs up into shorter distances and being more particular about my running surfaces. It has been about 6 months now since i have had shin splints. The swelling in my legs seems to have gone down and the tender spots are not as tender anymore. Its amazing i never thought i would even be free of them ever but im not getting to excited yet incase they come back, they like to trick you when you try something new sometime they disappear for a while and come back but this is the longest they have been gone and the most pain free i have been in about 5 years. It has been a long and hard journey dealing with this for so long it has made being a fighter very challenging and at times its made me just want to give up. Giving up and not having to run would be the easy option no running no pain and alot less expensive. Giving up just wasnt an option for me no way i struggled the whole way through but at least i can say i did it and i didn’t let it beat me. Now im keeping my fingers crossed that they stay away cause me being able to run as much as i want will bring me up to a whole new level of training and fitness which is a whole new level of fighting 🙂

The biggest lesson i learnt was to listen to your body DONT try to push through the pain and don’t do it just because someone tells you too. Its your body and you know what is going on not anyone else! Everyone is different and some peoples bodies react differently to things. If you can’t do something because it hurts then its your body telling you something. If you don’t do it it doesn’t make you lazy! Train smart train around it not through it, try to find a solution. Especially in Thailand if your gym makes your train through it then you need to find a new gym that is up to date with these types of conditions or that trusts you as a fighter to know what you need to do.

Some big NO NOs i found with shin splints:

Dont run in crappy shoes, Dont run on uneven surfaces, Dont run up or down to many steep hills, Dont run to many long distance runs in a row, Dont Skip, Dont run with bad technique.

Some DOs i found with shin splints:

Lots of stretching, New shoes every 3 months, Smaller distance running, Check running technique, Inner soles made, Run on flat surfaces


4 thoughts on “Shin splints :( – A fighters nightmare

  1. Pingback: Tuesday class notes and training reflections | a work in progress

  2. Hey Natasha, just to let you know I finally had my first fight wahoo! thanks for all the support and well done for upkeeping your blog, I never find the time!! xx 🙂

    • hey well done on your fight!!! i hope you enjoyed it. Its been hard trying to keep the blog going now im home with working and stuff dont have much time. Try to get something up as often as i can though 🙂 x

  3. Hey Tash, just letting you know, i also have had a lot of trouble with shin splints, and i am very appreciative of the fact you promote correcting your running technique. This can lead to many other issues as well, and essentially if you get your running technique correct you shouldn’t need special shoes – due to using MFR and corrective exercises in order to get correct activation at each stage of your gait cycle. You should be running barefoot if you are on grass – or in those flat 3mm sole shoes if you are on the road. That’s the end goal – getting a specific shoe and investing massive amounts of money every 3 months is just compensating for the real cause.
    Anyway, i’m glad you found a way through it and are finally pain free.

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