You only have a mile left on your run and you have plenty of wind left, but you have to call it quits. The shin splints are back.
A common malady among recreational runners, shin splints cause discomfort along the bony part of the shin, along the length of the tibia. Runners feel them both during and after a run. The biggest culprits are:
- Poor fitting or worn-out athletic footwear
- Improper stride technique
- Inept warm-up (learn how to warm up to prevent shin splints)
- Tight calf muscles
- Weak leg muscles
The best treatment for shin splints is to perform daily shin stretches and leg strengthening exercises. Below are some great shin splint stretches and exercises to include in your daily routine. Perform three sets of the 10-second standing stretches after your dynamic warm-up or as a cooldown following running or sprinting.
Stretches for Shin Splints
Anterior Tibialis Stretch
- Hold on to a countertop or place your hands on a wall
- Keep your heels down while raising your toes toward your shins (dorsiflexion) for 10 seconds
- Slowly lower and repeat twice more
Gastrocnemius (Calf) Stretch
- Place your hands against a wall
- Move your left foot toward the wall with your left knee slightly bent
- Keep your right leg straight and back
- Lean toward the wall with your left knee and press your right heel down into the floor
- Feel a stretch in your calf and hamstring
- Hold 10 seconds, release and perform twice more
- Repeat for the right calf with right knee toward wall and left leg straight and back
- Assume the same hands-on-wall position with your left leg towards the wall
- Instead of keeping your back right leg straight, slightly bend your right knee
- Feel the stretch in your shin
- Repeat with other leg
Ice Massage and Foam Roll to Eliminate Shin Splints
Gently rub ice cubes up and down your shin for a few minutes, or freeze a paper cup full of water and peel the paper while the ice melts as you gently massage up and down the shin to alleviate the soreness.
With your hands on the floor, kneel on a foam roller with your shins, then roll back and forth several times to massage away shin splint pain.
Learn more techniques and stretches for preventing and treating shin splints.