I have dealt with shin pain on and off pretty much throughout my entire running career. It seems to be something that is always lurking, ready to plague me at the most inconvenient times. Most recently, it reared its ugly head after an awesome weekend at the DC Ragnar Relay last September. I was smack in the middle of marathon training for the Marine Corps Marathon. I missed a week of training due to pain in my right shin. During that week I came down with a bad cold that turned into a sinus infection. In total, I was unable to follow my training plan for about 4 weeks after Ragnar.
After that first week entirely off, I did do some running. And I gave something new a try: kinesiology tape. I’ve heard a lot about it – most notably when Kerri Walsh became the face of KT Tape during the London Olympics. My running buddy, Kim, also used it with success in the past when she started having plantar fasciitis issues. So I gave it a try, and it worked like a charm. (And no, they’re not paying me. That’s just the brand I had the most success with after trying two or three)
In case you’re not familiar, kinesiology tape is an elastic sports tape that is used to support muscles, ligaments, and/or tendons during exercise. Given that definition I still don’t quite know why it worked for me, but it did. I used it in combination with stretching and a very strict icing regiment.
When I first started using the tape, I found that there were two different ways to tape for shin splints: one way for posterior shin splints and one for anterior. I gave them each a try.
The posterior shin splints taping (above, left) ended up being what worked best for me, so I stuck with that. It’s definitely not a solution to shin pain and I don’t intend to use it as such. But I do feel like the tape gives me some added support where I need it. I did not have any pain in my left shin during 18 weeks of marathon training and haven’t had to tape it at all. I used the tape on my right shin during the Marine Corps Marathon and did not have any pain in my shin during or after the race.
One other thing I love about the tape is it typically lasts for several days (up to 4, in my experience). As long as your skin is smooth, clean, and free of things like lotion it will stick very well. I have found that my shin does alright on shorter runs without tape, so I typically only tape my leg before a long run or race and then just wear it until it comes off. I haven’t been taping it lately, since I haven’t been running as much. But once my mileage ramps back up a bit, I’ll be taping again for long runs.
Have you ever used kinesiology tape before?