6 Exercises to Prevent Shin Splints

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Shin Splints, medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), refers to the pain a person feels in the front lower legs. It is described as an inflammatory condition of the front part of the tibia.It’s a common injury among runners particularly those who run with excessive impact on the lower legs or those who often run on hard surfaces. The pain is usually felt early during the start of the run, then goes unnoticed while running, then returns when the run is over. Sometimes the pain can become so bad, the runner has to stop and seek medical treatment.

There are many lifestyle improvements you can do to prevent shin splints and some of them are the following:

1. Build running strength

When you run, it’s important to build your running distance first. Some runners develop shin splints because they run too far too early or join a marathon when they’re not used running long distances. Building running strength will not only make you a more effective runner but also help strengthen the muscles around your shins which will decrease the risks of acquiring shin splints.

2. Wear compression sleeves

You can choose to wear compression sleeves to provide a sort of cushion around your shins. Compression socks and sleeves provide graduated compression, meaning the compression is higher (tighter) at the foot and ankle and lower (looser) as it moves up the calf and lower leg. This type of compression helps to fight the effects of gravity and assist the body in venous return (deoxygenated blood flowing back up to the heart).

Wearing compression sleeves also help you recover from injury faster.

3. Cross training

Running is a good way to train but you can also complement this with other forms of exercises that are low-impact or less jarring on the joints such cycling, rowing, or swimming. Kettlebell training is also low-impact and seeks to improve overall lower body strength which helps runners go farther.

Exercises for Shin Splints

There are also certain exercises that help prevent shin splints. For that, we compiled a list of the 6 best exercises we think can help prevent shin splints for your future runs.

1. Toe Taps

How to do it:

  • Lie on the floor with your arms at your sides.
  • Lift your feet, bending both knees 90 degrees so your thighs are perpendicular to the floor.
  • Now slowly and quietly tap your left toes to the floor, then your right, alternating your feet like this for 1 minute.
  • If you feel any lower back pain, don’t lower your toes all the way down.

2. Wall Shin Raises

How to do it:

  • Stand with your back and shoulders against the wall, with your feet shoulder width apart and about one foot in front of the wall.
  • Raise your toes as high off the ground toward your body as you can with your weight on your heels.
  • Slowly lower your toes until they are almost but not quite on the floor, and then flex them up again. Repeat this ten times.

3. Calf Stretches

How to do it:

  • Stand on the edge of a step.
  • Stand tall with your abdominals pulled in, the balls of your feet firmly planted on the step, and your heels hanging over the edge.
  • Raise your heels a few inches above the edge of the step so that you’re on your tiptoes.
  • Hold the position for a moment, and then lower your heels below the platform, feeling a stretch in your calf muscles.

4.  Resistance-Band Wipers

How to do it:

  • Place a resistance band around both feet.
  • Then, using one foot as an anchor, rotate the other from side to side like a windshield wiper.

5. Roll Out

How to do it:

  • Kneel on the roller.
  • Gently roll two inches down the anterior tibialis muscle (front of the shin) and one inch up.
  • Do this all the way from the lower knee to the ankle.

6. Heel Step-Downs

How to do it:

  • Begin with an erect body position, placing your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Take a step forward with one foot. The length of the step should be a normal walking step.
  • When your heel makes contact with the ground, stop your foot from fully plantar flexing.
  • Using your shin muscles, keep the sole of the foot from contacting the ground.
  • Your toes should not descend more than an inch or so.
  • Step back to the starting position, repeat for 10-15 reps, and switch legs.

Those are the 6 exercises we recommend to make sure you not only recover from shin splints but also prevent it from happening to you again!

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