I decided to write this post because I get asked this question a few times a month. I figured if that many people want to know about it, then you might too!!
I haven’t struggled with shin splints since my high school days, but let me tell you. I had them BAD!! I remember in jr. high getting them while practicing my hurdles and sprints. As a matter of fact, I had to miss a track meet and some practices because of them. Even with all my running and exercising, it’s been a rare occasion that I feel a twinge of pain in that area! So this goes to show that they can be healed!!!
First of all, we need to identify where shin splints occur. They occur on the lower, inner part of the leg as seen in the picture below.
Now, for some ways to prevent and treat them!
The first thing I ask is how are your shoes? 2 things to consider:
- Age. If you’ve been using your mowing shoes or a pair of shoes that are 2 years old to exercise in, then you are probably going to have hurting legs. Depending on how much you exercise/run, you may need to switch out your shoes as soon as every 6 months.
- Arch support. You may want to consider seeing a running store shoe specialist to have them examine your arch and a few other things. If you have high arches, you may want to consider purchasing an arch support. The employees at the store will help you with this.
Strengthen & Stretch
We must strengthen and stretch the area!! Here are some exercises I recommend doing. (Grab an exercise band or long towel to do these) REPS: Do 1-2 sets of 10-12 each foot
- Draw the ABC’s (in the air!) with your feet (no exercise band needed)
- Point and Flex. Place the band behind the ball of the foot while holding it and point and flex. You can also have a partner hold it while you point and flex. (As you can see, my husband barely had to move for this. LOL!)
- In and Outs. Point the toes in then back out. (Yikes! Pardon the “running” feet!)
- Foot circles. You can do this seated or even laying down! Place band around foot and circle foot one way and then the other way.
- Calf raises. I happen to have a twist on them right here!! How about that?!
- Tilt & Rock Stretch: Bend down on the floor. Tilt forward a bit onto the bottom of the toes.. Hold for 2 seconds, then rock back onto the balls of the feet in starting position. Repeat. Keep the heels from hitting the floor. Do this a few times a day.
Of course none of these previous things help while you are in the middle of major shin pain. Here are 2 ways I recommend to soothe that pain.
- Ice! Check out this cool trick I learned in high school track. Take a Styrofoam cup. Fill with water. Place in freezer (do a few of these if you have a lot of icing to do!) When you need to ice, take the cup and peel back the Styrofoam and then ice from there! Gets right to the point! (Be sure to keep a towel nearby!) Do this after exercising and any other time you feel the pain.
- Massage. My mom used to massage the arches of my feet. You can do this with nothing, or try a little massage oil or even Biofreeze!! You’d be surprised at how arch massage really helps.
- Rest. Take a day or two off of exercising until you feel better.
If you do have shin splints, then the methods above will take care of them in a short period of time, however, if none of the above work, then you may need to see your doctor. It’s possible you don’t have shin splints, but you have a stress fracture. Yikes.Talk to your doctor if you are still in pain after 3 weeks of the above methods.
What do you do when you have shin splints?