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. They often occur in the front lower part of your shins when your legs are overworked. Sometimes they surface due to certain muscles over compensating for weaker ones, creating imbalances in your legs. If you’re a person who gets shin splints, staying ahead of them is the goal. Here are six things you can do on your own at the beginning of your season or training period to strengthen your calves, ankles, hips, and feet which support your shins in order to help prevent shin splints (perform after running).
1. Monster Walks This exercise will help strengthen your hips. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, place a resistance band around your thighs or ankles (whichever you prefer) and step forward and to the right with right right leg. Bring your left leg up to meet your right while still keeping some resistance on the band. Then step out toward the left. Take 8-10 steps with each leg, then do the same thing going backwards, returning to the spot from which you started.
2. Toe Curls This exercise will strengthen your ankles and calves. Stand with your feet hip-width apart at the edge of a towel. With the toes of your right foot, gather the towel and slowly pull it towards you. Return to starting position and repeat with left foot.
3. Heel Drop This exercise is intended to stretch the calves. 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 with right leg.
4. One Legged Bridges This exercise increases glute and hamstring strength, further stabilizing your hips. Lie on your back with your arms out to the sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Contract your glutes to lift your hips off the floor. Extend your right leg up and out at a 45 degree angle and hold for 30 seconds, then lower it. Repeat with your left leg.
5. Massage With Ice A stationary bag of peas works to reduce inflammation after running, but there’s a better technique. Freeze a paper cup filled with water, tear off the top of the cup down to where the surface of the ice starts, and massage whichever part of your shinbone is irritated with comfortable pressure for 10 to 15 minutes.
6. Arch Support If you are naturally flat footed, it can sometimes 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 forgiving splint. Try out some different options available at running stores and see which pair works best for you.