When the lower leg muscles get overused from constant wear and tear, a painful condition called shin splints can develop. This nagging injury is very common and can keep even the most seasoned athletes off their feet for weeks.
What Causes Shin Splints?
People who experience shin splints describe their symptoms as tender-to-the-touch, with aching on either side of the shin bone. This dull, throbbing pain often appears during or right after exercise. Over time, chronic shin splint pain will leave the leg feeling fatigued, weakened, and numb.
Watch the video below to learn more about shin splints and how it differs from other leg injuries.
Exercises to Prevent Shin Splints
While rest and ice may help you recover, they don’t always address the underlying causes of shin splints. One of the factors contributing to shin splints is the presence of weakened muscles in the ankles, legs, and hips.
Below are five exercises that you can add to your routine to build strength and stability to help avoid an overuse injury like shin splints.
1) Myofascial Release: Foam Rolling Calves
The foam roller is a great recovery tool for any muscles that feel tight or sore. Rolling out your calves after a workout can help relieve muscle tension by breaking down any adhesions or knots and keeping your muscles loose.
- Place the foam roller between the Achilles tendon and calf muscle, do not roll behind the back of the knee.
- Cross the other leg over the leg being treated to increase the pressure.
- Roll the entire calf in an up and down motion.
- Pause at any spots that feel especially tight.
- Keep your calf relaxed.
- Repeat 2x/day for 2 minutes on each calf.
2) Ankle Strength & Stability: Isometric Inversion
- Sit with a ball between your feet.
- Push the inside of your feet inward and up against the ball.
- Relax, and repeat 10 times.
3) Glute Medius Strengthening: Monster Walks
- Wrap an elastic band around your legs just under the knees, keeping the legs shoulders-width apart.
- Brace your core, avoid flaring the ribs and maintain a straight posture.
- Step slowly, maintaining the tension on the band between steps.
- Take 10 steps right and 10 steps left.
- Do not let your knees cave in when you step.
- Complete 10 repetitions.
4) Stability & Balance: Toe Walks/Dancer’s Walk
- Walk with an exaggerated heel to toe, one foot at a time.
- Maintain balance and control from the heel to push off toes.
- This will help build stability and balance to your ankles, calves, and toes.
- Complete 10 steps on each foot.
5) Hip & Glute Strengthening: Bridges
- Begin by lying flat on your back.
- Place your feet on the floor, underneath the bend in your knees, and in line with your hips.
- Roll your pelvis back towards the floor, lessening the gap between your low back and the floor.
- From here, press your feet into the floor, with a focus on the heels.
- Squeeze your gluteal muscles and brace your core before beginning the movement.
- Now, lift your hips off the floor until your hips and torso make a straight line.
- Maintain the contractions in your core and glutes and hold this position for 2-3 seconds at the top of the motion.
- With a slow and controlled motion, return to the starting position.
- Complete 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
More Exercises for Shin Splints Relief & Prevention
Dr. Breanne Kelley demonstrates a few more quick exercises you can add to your routine to help avoid painful shin splits.
Get Back on Your Feet Fast with Airrosti
Ready to kick your shin splints to the curb? At Airrosti, our providers are experts at accurately diagnosing and treating pain at its source. Our targeted approach to treating the root cause of pain can quickly help you return to doing what you love most. In fact, most patient cases have been resolved in just three visits, based on patient-reported outcomes. We also focus on prevention by prescribing customized exercises and stretches that you can do at home to keep the pain from coming back.
If painful shin splints are keeping you from doing the things you love most, schedule an appointment with Airrosti, and get back to doing what you love most.
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