Sahara sitting on a bench at the track, smiling at camera in black nike hijab

Every runner's worst nightmare is shin splints. That includes me in this equation. If you don't know what shin splints are: it's when you have pain/tenderness/soreness in the large bone in front of your lower leg. The more you try to shake it off that it's not something serious, the more serious it becomes and you can end up out of running/exercising for a few months. That isn't ideal when you're working towards a goal and suddenly everything is in shambles.

Now, I've had a few run-ins with shin splints. From having to take 1 month off to several months off because I tried to shake it off saying I was fine and it was all in my head. Narrator: It was not.

Thankfully, I've been smooth sailing for the past handful of months (according to my Nike app I've been running 12 Months straight?) - and this is mainly due to me taking every precaution necessary to ensure me and shin splints do not meet up for some tea any time soon.

If you currently have shin splints - this happens mainly to runners, dancers! - I hope these tips are helpful!

1. Leave an Ice Pack on your shins in the evenings for 15-20 mins

Even when you're not ~injured~ having an ice pack on your shins can really help after a hard workout. When my legs are sore after either a speed workout on the track, or after a long run, I put some ice packs on my legs in the evening to relax my shins and they feel great afterwards. I usually do this at least 2-3 times a week. Or if I'm feeling a bit lazy, at least once a week.

According to Runner's World: "Ice can decrease pain and inflammation and enhance healing."

Sahara sitting on a bench at the track, smiling at camera in black nike hijab
fun fact: a lot of people were staring at me with my tripod, but ya girl was not about to let that ruin this photo session after a sweaty speed run

2. Ice Baths

In the same vibe as ice packs but rather than having it concentrated on only your shins, you can make sure your whole leg gets the ice treatment. Running isn't just about your shins, and it's important to concentrate on all areas of your body when recovering. When you first start ice baths there's going to a lot of mental convincing to get into the tub of ice but trust me - your legs will be happy afterwards! Plus, it's actually the perfect time to watch a Ted Talk. I watched Don't Strive to be Famous, Strive to be Talented | Maise Williams.

Sahara sitting on a bench at the track with track bag, smiling at camera in black nike hijab
I call this I don't know where I'm going but clearly I have plans to go somewhere with my track bag

2.1 Contrast Hydrotherapy 

Now you may or may not be scratching your head at this but hear me out. I heard about this from Chari Hawkins, Team USA Heptathlete -  I still have to give it a try myself however I wanted to include it in the event that you've heard of this. Contrast Hydrotherapy is just a fancy way of saying alternating between ice + hot baths - I found this article really helpful in breaking it down: Contrast Hydrotherapy.

You can even alternate between Ice Packs + Heating Pads as well! I'll have to try this and report back either on here or over on my Instagram!

3. Squats

OK OK - I know you're sitting there wondering how did we go from ice-y hot recovery to this but trust me on this okay! The most important thing is to have strong legs. Strong legs - read: strong shins - means you can handle pushing off the ground as your mileage increases. This is where having leg day at the gym is super beneficial, but if you don't have access to the gym, that doesn't mean your leg strength completely has to go down hill. Squats are a great way to improve your leg strength - especially with a resistance band for your glutes - the stronger your legs the more your legs can handle, which leads me to my next point.

Also, because I don't want you guys having the wrong form squatting, here is an infographic on proper form - happy squatting!

Sahara sitting on a bench at the track, smiling at camera in black nike hijab
running out of captions here but hello just cheesin' here

4. Steady Mileage Buildup

I like to think we've all been here. Wanting to increase your mileage as soon as possible to be like all the other runners you see on Instagram. I'm here to tell you that that's actually the quickest way - from personal experience  - to get shin splints. By increasing your mileage too quickly, your legs are being over worked and that's how Shin Splints enter your life. I went from running 0 miles to 8 miles in one week and my legs felt sore and I physically couldn't run even if I wanted to because of how much pressure I put on my legs.

To avoid Shin Splints after coming back to running after Ramadan, I've been going up each week by 0.25. So when I was running 1 mile one week, the next week - if I felt my body was ready for an increase - I increased to 1.25. There were also times where I felt I needed to settle into a distance and ended up staying with one distance for a week and a half. You know your body, listen to how your body feels each run and make your decision based on that not based on how many miles XYZ did on Instagram.

This is actually one reason why I am sometimes vague with my mileage and pacing on my Instagram in my training. Sometimes I mention it if I'm comparing Month X to Month Y or if I'm discussing a race, but usually I keep my miles and pace to myself. This is mainly because I know how much it affects me when I see someone else where I want to be but am not and I don't ever want to make someone feel negative on their own running based on where I am in my running life (I hope that made sense).

5. Foam Rolling

Before working out, roll out your calves (and thighs too) to warm up. Foam Rolling can help relieve muscle tightness and reduce inflammation. Personally, foam rolling really helps relax my muscles and also prepares my muscles for a workout - think of it as a muscle massage!

Also, there are foam rollers that vibrate and I for one am here for those (I don't have one of those but they seem awesome!) I have 2 types of foam rollers: One big one and one smaller one. The big one is a general one I use before sleeping while the small one really digs deep into my muscles. 

ALSO, slightly off topic but stay with me on this: Foam Roll your back. Trust me. Thank me later.

Sahara sitting on a bench at the track, smiling at camera in black nike hijab


Yes, that was written in caps lock for a reason. There is this idea that you have to be working out everyday with no rest in between. But, with no rest, how does your body recover? By having a rest day in your schedule - or even 2 days of rest- you allow your muscles to relax and save yourself from any injury you would have gotten if you overtrained. I've written a post all about the importance of recovery if you're interested in reading more of my thoughts: Importance of Recovery days.

Also, Golden Milk is an actual savior for inflammation! According to a study, the main ingredients in Golden Milk (Turmeric, Ginger, and cinnamon)  are effective in reducing inflammation and joint pain.

And there we have it! I really hope that this list was helpful - as a runner who has had SEVERAL run ins with shin splits, this is what I've found worked best for me. Recover Smart and Run Smart - that's practically the best advice I can give you.

I'd love to know if you all have anything you do to avoid shin splints - do you use ice packs? Hop into an ice bath? LET ME KNOW!