Shin Splint Prevention + Treatment
Simply put, once shin splints set in, they can be a pain to get rid of. In fact, the only way to get rid of them is to stay off of them -- which, in today's day and age, can be impossible. These splints often occur in the lower part of your shins when your legs are overworked. Sometimes, they'll surface due to certain muscles over compensating for weaker ones in an attempt to fix the imbalances in your leg. If you’re a person who gets shin splints, staying ahead of them is the ultimate goal. Here are six things you can do on your own at the beginning of your training session to strengthen your calves, ankles, hips, and feet in order to help prevent shin splints. Try doing these exercises after running so you don't tire yourself out before the workout!
Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, place a resistance band around your thighs or ankles and step forward and to the right with the right leg. Then, bring your left leg up to meet your right while still keeping resistance on the band. Next, of course, step out towards the left, repeating the process before for 8-10 steps with each leg. In order to continuously work your hips, do the same exercise but going backwards, returning to the spot from which you started. Make sure you keep as much resistance on the bands as possible!
This next exercise is intended to stretch the calves, so stand on your toes on the edge of a step. Shift your weight to your left leg, take your right foot off the step, and lower your left heel down, creating tension throughout the left calf muscle. Return to the start, and repeat, doing sets of ten for as long as you're comfortable. Then, switch legs and repeat! Remember to only go as far as you're comfortable at first. If you push your muscles too far at first, you can possibly incur more injury -- but try to work up to crushing all these workouts in one go!
This exercise will increase glute and hamstring strength which will further stabilize your hips, making this a real doozy of an exercise. Lie on your back with your arms to the sides, knees bent, and feet flat, contracting your glutes to lift your hips off the floor. Extend your right leg up and out at a 45 degree angle and hold for thirty seconds, then lower it. Repeat with your left leg, thus finishing your first set -- then, do it two more times through!
Massage With Ice
An frigid bag of peas works to reduce inflammation after running, but you probably didn't know that there’s a better technique. Freeze a paper cup filled with water, then tear off the top of the cup down to where the ice starts, and massage. Focus on whichever part of your shinbone is irritated, with added, comfortable pressure, for ten to fifteen minutes.
If you're naturally flat-footed, it can often lead to shin splints. Consider lifting your arch with insoles in your sneakers to take the stress off of your lower legs. These may not be necessary forever if you do some strength work, but they may act as a temporary and forgiving splint. Try out some different options and see which pair works best for you.
(Related: Read about effectively breathing while running here.)
Ultimately, preventing shin splints will be up to you and your desire to stay healthy. Don't wait for injury, instead, work to prevent it from even happening in the first place! These are some simple and basic-level exercises that anybody can utilize in their journey to being more fundamental sound. At most, a workout like this might take you a little bit more than twenty minutes -- who doesn't have that much to spend? In a world that's so fast-paced our heads rarely stop spinning, an easy, but effective plan is something everybody can use. Top it off with a little ice and arch support and you'll be in business -- what are you waiting for?