With running season in full gear and the mileage ramping up shin splints are on the rise. So, we are going to go over the top three exercises for shin splints.
Shin splints are sort of a garbage can term in terms of if there is any pain on the front of the shin, people label it shin splints. And a lot of time, while shin splints may be present, they are not the only thing they are a second or third issue, the others just haven’t shown their heads yet.
Shin splints are often warning sign that there’s a lot of other things going on.
A quick test to see if you have shin splints or the beginning of shin splints is to run your finger up and down your shin. If it does not feel good, you might get some bumps, then you could have shin splints or the beginning of shin splints.
If you have pain in the back of your leg or pain in your knee, your ankle pain or in your foot, that is not shin splints. That is something else.
Shin splints is a muscle imbalance. And by a muscle imbalance I mean one muscle is stronger than the other and there could be knots. In the case of shin splints the gastric, the muscle in the back could be stronger then the muscle in the front or there could be weakness all the way up to the core that can cause shin splints.
Shin splints causes can go all the way up the leg and into the abdominals. If you’re being treated for shin splints right now and they are only working on your shin, the problem is not being fixed and they will come back. They’re going to come back. 99 percent of the time I will promise you they are going to come back because the entire leg needs to be addressed.
When we’re addressing shin splints what where needs to be looked at is why are you getting shin splints. Your running pattern needs to be looked at, meaning is your heel or toes striking the ground. Then we need to worry about the actual leg. Is there a hip issue? Is there a knee issue or a back issue?
As we go through these exercises, realize that they all just don’t focus on the shin because we need to address all the areas that can cause shin splints.
The first exercise that you can do for shin splints is to stretch the front of your shin. And these are shown in the video below, so you can watch the video to see how to properly perform the exercises.
You’re going to do this without your shoe on. You are going to start and curl your toes under and press the front of your foot into the ground. If you need to get a deeper stretch, then bend the knee on the opposite side.
You are going to feel this stretch in the front of the foot, in the toes and up into the shin. You want to stop the stretch when you feel the stretch, if you feel it in the toes then that is where you hold the stretch. Do not push through the pain to feel the stretch in the front of the shin. Stop the stretch when you feel it.
Eventually you will feel the stretch in the front of the shin, the more you stretch. But it may not be for awhile so just stop when you feel the stretch. It should never be painful. It should only be a nice gentle stretch. You want to hold the stretch for 30 seconds and do 6 sets. You want to do it on both sides, regardless of if you only feel the pain one shin.
The second thing I’m going to show you is for strengthening the front of the leg, the actual shin, so you might not be able to do this right away especially if your shin splints are really painful.
You can do it standing or sitting. Keep your heel on the ground and tap your toe. You’re going to do these three times for one minute and it’s going to burn. Even if you don’t have shin pain, most often doing this for a minute will cause a burn. But if becomes painful then you should stop. Burning is ok, pain is not.
The final exercise we’re going to do for shin splints has nothing to do with the shin. It’s more about how your foot hits the ground. A lot of times with shin splints (and this is not all the time) if you were to record yourself while you’re running you’re going to get a lot of slapping. You will hear loud slapping noises as the front of the foot hits the ground.
This slap is caused by several things. But it can cause shin splints because the shin can’t absorb the forces and therefore it causes pain. Which is why you can’t just treat the shin when working on shin splints.
But this slapping is most often caused by a weakness in one of your glut muscles. Your glut muscles help you to control your foot, in particular your glut medius so the next exercise we are going to do is going to focus on strengthening the glut medius.
This next exercise is done in standing. You can stand on the ground or on an elevated surface. You want one leg up and one leg down. So, if you are on a step, you want one leg off the step and one leg on the step. The leg that is on the ground, or on the step, is going to stay locked in place. Do not lock it out straight but you want to make sure that it does not bend and straighten during this exercise.
You’re going to drop your hip and lift it up. Nice and easy and slowly as far as you can go. You can have a large range of motion or a small range of motion. Do not bend and straighten the knee to get a bigger range of motion.
You want to try not to touch the ground or the step in between each repetition. You’re going to feel the exercise on your standing leg more than you are on the on the leg going up and down. You want to perform 3 sets of 30 on each leg.
The important thing about shin splints is that you determine the exact cause and the extent of the leg that has been affected. Finding the exact origin of the pain is going to allow you to treat the cause of the pain and not just put a band aid on the pain.
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