Shin splints is a common injury amongst beginner runners, and is often a result of running too much, too soon. This often happens when runners are new to training, while their bodies are still adapting to the high impact demands of running. It’s important to note, especially for those running for weight loss, that bodyweight is a factor in why many beginner runners develop shin splints.
Increased bodyweight is a known risk factor for developing shin splints. If you are overweight (Body Mass Index of 26 or above) or obese, there is more risk of you developing shin splints when running.
However, there are steps you can take to help prevent this type of shin pain when running for weight loss, as I’ll explain in answering the question about shin splints below:
Does Being Overweight Cause Shin Splints when Running?
Thanks for the great question!
Running is of course a fantastic way to lose weight and improve general fitness. It is however, one of the most high-impact activities you can put your body through.
In fact, most running injuries are overuse in nature, and at least in part related to the fact that your body experiences forces of 2 to 4 times your own body weight with each and every stride.
You can certainly work on improving your running form, thus reducing unwanted impact and loading, but when it comes down to it, we all have to endure considerable impact with every single running stride. None of us can do anything about gravity!
Based on this review of Risk Factors for Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (the medical term for shin splints), runners who are overweight or obese, based on Body Mass Index (BMI), are at greater risk of developing shin splints. So more care should be taken when it comes to progressing your training load as your body gets used to running.
But as you progressively being to lose weight, your bones, joints, muscles and tendons will have less stress and strain to withstand with each stride as you run.
It’s very normal for beginner runners to experience various aches and pains as their bodies gradually develop the strength in key areas and adapt to an increasing frequency and volume of running. As you’re already feeling, the shins, calfs and knees are typical places for such aches and pains.
Unfortunately there’s a fine line between the typical aches and pains that come with getting used to training, and a full-blown injury. As you’ve found out, a slight ache in your shins can easily turn into a case of shin splints. Usually as a result of doing too much running, too soon.
Listening to your body is of key importance – one of the most important lessons you’ll ever learn as a runner. A lesson most of us learn the hard way!
So, to answer your question, in short. Please please don’t try to run through the shin pain. I’ve actually written an article which explains in detail exactly why you shouldn’t continue to run with shin splints. I think you’d find it an interesting read!
How to Prevent Shin Splints if You’re Overweight
Rest? Well, you’ve already told me that two months rest from running has only resulted in similar (if less) pain when you returned to running recently.
So there must be something more you can do…
You’ve had your gait assessed, and now have custom orthotics. Hopefully these are helping your feet move properly, which will hopefully help your shins. I can’t be more specific, as I don’t know the full details of your individual biomechanics.
Instead – In the relative short-term, I’d suggest putting much more emphasis on low impact high-intensity cardio workouts.
There’s evidence to suggest that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) using various whole body strength exercises is a more effective means of fat-burning than steady state cardio, such as running.
You’ll get the benefit of workouts that help you lose weight, while also building the strength and resilience your body needs to run in the long term.
The goal is to get fit to run, before you can run to get fit.
Perhaps only run once or twice per week, following a modified version of this return to running programme, for the next 6-12 weeks.
In this time focus on getting 3-4 HIIT sessions completed per week.
Following the return to running plan, you’ll be gradually increasing the running training load, at a rate that your body can hopefully adapt to.
You’ll be a stronger runner for it 🙂
Example HIIT Session
Here’s an example of a simple high-intensity interval training workout you can perform regularly to complement your running.
I hope that helps. Best of luck with your training!