Shin splints can be incredibly frustrating. The nagging pain is uncomfortable and can severely degrade your performance. Fortunately, performing a proper warm-up can prevent shin splints from occurring.
Shin Splints Defined
Shin splints are the result of inflammation of shin muscles or small microfractures of the tibia (the shinbone). They generate pain when you walk, run or sprint, and can become persistent and even completely debilitating.
Shin splints are caused by repetitive high-impact activity. Long-distance running is a common origin, but any sport that has frequent and forceful changes of direction, like basketball, football or soccer, is a potential culprit.
Diving deeper into the root cause, it's not just repetitive high-impact activity. The true cause is when bones and their support structures are shocked by high-impact activity—e.g., running five miles when your previous top distance was only one mile, or beginning a speed workout without warming up beforehand.
Perform a Warm-Up
Preventing shin splints starts with a proper warm-up. You only need to spend five minutes to prepare your body for a workout or game.
Begin with foam rolling to release tight muscles and break down any adhesions or scar tissue that has built up from exercise. Focus on the soleus (lower calf), because it is a commonly overused and troubled area among athletes. Finish off your shin splint prevention warm-up by performing two dynamic stretches to activate muscles in the ankles, calves and shins.
- Calf Foam Roll - 1-2x30 seconds each leg
- Peroneal (outer side of shin) Foam Roll - 1-2x30 seconds each leg
- Ankle Drivers - 1-2x10-12 each leg
- Modified Ankle Drivers - 1-2x10-12 each leg
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