Fitness Friday: Shin Splints

Are you among the population that vow and declare that you are not built for distance running, yet you still desire to do it?

If so, this article is for you!

Running is one of the most straightforward forms of exercise, and it has numerous benefits including improved cardiovascular health, weight management and/or loss, decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression, increased strength and endurance and so much more. Despite the ease of picking up a running routine and its number of benefits, you may notice yourself fall out of the routine that you worked so hard to attain due to recurring injuries, aches and pains. Some common running injuries, aches and pains include

  • Shin splints
  • “Runner’s” knee
  • Locked hips
  • Low back tightness
  • Sciatica
  • Tight hamstrings
  • Slouchy shoulder
  • Plantar fasciitis

 

 

Believe it or not, these common runners ailments can be caused by different things in different people from imbalances in the muscskeletal system to inefficient stride and all things in between(I will spare you the nitty gritty details). Nevertheless, more often than not, experts narrow in on the issue and offer up solutions in the form of exercises and stretches that can support you maintaining your running routine and truly thriving with your personal exercise goals.

A very common runner injury is shins splints. A shin splint typically presents itself as acute pain in the lower front of the leg, or shin, due to overuse. Overuse may include running on hard surfaces for long distances, excessive durations or other related impact exercise. As a result of overuse, this shin injury may result in micro tears of the bone and/or muscle around the shin, which is often only treatable with long rest periods in order to allow the muscle and bone to recover and repair. Due to the severity of shin splints, it is critical to take precautions in hopes to prevent the injury from ever coming on.

 

Here are a few exercises and stretches to help you get started.

 

Toe stretch

How to:

Start on your knees, and slowly lean your rear-end back so that you are now sitting on your heels with your feet together. Tuck your toes under so that you are on the balls of your feet. Hold for 20-60 seconds at first. Gradually add time as you put this stretch into practice.

Why:

This stretch opens toes and ankles which can aid in better achieving the proper mobility during the landing and pushing phases of running. Furthermore, holding the pose may help lengthen back out the muscles around the knee joint.

Pro tips:

  • Sitting for long periods on the heels may strain the knees and you may notice extreme tightness in the ankles and toes. So allow yourself some practice before holding for an extended duration.
  • If you have limited range of motion, you may have to do a gentle assist by reaching down and helping your little toes tuck under like the rest of your toes.
  • Do not stay if it becomes painful.

Alternatives:

If the pose is too challenging (that’s ok!), simply stand back up on your knees to relieve the joints, then return back to the pose when or if you are ready

 

Shin stretch

How to:

Start on your knees, and slowly lean your rear-end back so that you are now sitting on your heels with the tops of your feet on top of the ground. Place your arms behind you with palms down and slowly tilt backward until your finger tips or hands catch you. Your knees may come off the ground slightly. Hold for 20-60 seconds at first. Gradually add time as you put this stretch into practice.

Why:

This stretch targets the anterior tibialis, or muscle on the outside, front of your leg. By adding this stretch to your preventive shin splints regime, you are lengthening the muscle that helps with toe lift and strike while running.

Pro tips:

  • Keep your inner ankles and inner knees together.
  • Do not stay if it becomes painful.

Alternatives:

If the stretch is too difficult (that’s ok!), simply lift your upper body back up so that your hands can rest on your lap rather than catch you as you are leaning backward.

 

Calf raises

How to:

Begin standing upright on the edge of a stair or edge of a curb with your heels hanging slightly over the edge. Press up into the air onto your toes, lifting your heels as high as you can. Perform 15-25 reps. Hold for 2-5 seconds each rep.

Why:

Though the larger leg and glute muscles play a huge role in speed, stride improvement and general running efficiency, the calve muscles are imperative to your push off. Strengthening your calves can not improve running performance but can also balance the out the load your body takes in during this impact sport.

Pro tips:

Hold onto a wall or rail to ensure stability while performing the exercise. Try single calf raises to isolate one side and train for possible imbalances.

Alternatives:

If this is too challenging(that’s ok!), try practicing in a level ground and begin with lower reps as you gradually advance your calf raising skill.

 

Do you need additional help figuring out ways to combat your personal injuries or formulating an exercise regimen for your fitness goals. Schedule an appointment with myself or one of our certified personal trainers today!

 


 

Click HERE to learn more about the Wellview services available to you. We can’t wait to work with you!

 

 

– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC

Health Advisor  |  

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