Can I Run a Race With Shin Splints?

runners in 5k race
skynesher / E+ / Getty

“I’m registered to run a 5K this weekend and I’m dealing with a mild case of shin splints.  Will I be able to run the race with shin splints?”

Shin splints, one of the most common running injuries, is a general term for the pain that occurs in the front of the lower leg. In many cases, shin splints respond well to RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) treatment.  So if you have a few days to go before your race, your best bet is to refrain from running.

Stretching your calf muscles may also provide some relief, as sometimes shin pain can be a result of tight muscles.

The day before your race, go for a short run to see how your lower legs are feeling. Make sure you give yourself at least 10 minutes to warm up, since mild shin splints often disappear once the lower leg muscles are warmed up. You can even stop halfway through your warm-up to stretch your calf muscles to help reduce the tightness.

If the shin pain gets worse as you continue running or if it’s bad enough that it’s causing you alter your running gait, then you should not participate in the race. Those are signs of a running injury and running in the race might make the injury worse (and probably wouldn’t be an enjoyable experience for you, anyway).

If you’ve been dealing with the pain for about two weeks and it hasn’t been responding to rest, then you may want to get it checked out by a medical professional.

But if the pain is very mild (not causing you to change your gait) or goes away after you’re warmed up, then you should be fine to run in the race.

To help prevent shin splints before your next race, try these tips for preventing shin splints.

More About Running Injuries

Continue Reading