If you have shin splints, a number of exercises or activities can help
Strengthen your calves with body weight single leg Calf Raisers
- Stand on your balls of your feet on the edge of a step. Shift your weight to your weaker leg, by taking your other foot off the step and placing it behind your ankle.Make sure you have support on both sides of the step so you can stack your joints on top of each other. Keep up straight and tall, ensuring you don’t lean. Check the foot with all the weight on is in the centre. Then raise and lower your heel up and down 12-15 times. Repeat with your other leg.
- Note: You must have equal strength in both calves. If you can’t do at least ten on each leg you are lacking calf strength. Weak calves cause considerable issues including shin splints.
Strengthen the front of your legs with Toe Raisers
- Stand on the step again. Turn around so you’re facing downwards. Move forward until just your heels are on the step with the rest of your foot hanging off. With your legs straight, point your toes downward as far as you can, then lift them up as far as you can. Repeat. Do as many as you can in 30 seconds. Do them rapidly, but with full extension and flexion. After 30 seconds, bend your knees at a 45-degree angle (about half way). Without pausing to rest, do another 30 seconds of flexing in that position. That’s one complete set.
- Note: If it burns like hell, then you’re doing it correctly.
Strengthen your toes with Toe Curls
- Stand with feet hip-width apart at the edge of a towel. With the toes of your left foot, gather the towel and slowly pull it toward you. Return to start and repeat with the other foot.
- Pick up a pencil with just your toes. Write your name.
Stretch your calves twice daily for at least 30 secs each leg
- Loosen up tight calves and achilles tendons, both can contribute to shin splints and cause all sorts of other issues as well. Especially those who are on their feet a good part of the day.
- No point in strengthening any muscle if you don’t stretch it after.
Strengthen your core
- A strong core will allow you to place less stress on your lower limbs with each step.
- Focus more on your weaker areas
Strengthen your Glutes
- Bridges, single leg bridges, hip thrusters etc. Runners World have done considerable research on how weak glutes contribute to shin splints.
- Always activate (switch on) your glutes before you run.
Foam roll your calf muscles before running
- Foam rolling helps lengthen the calves and has similar benefits to massage.
Mobilise your calves before running
- As we age, the ankle joint is one of the first to lose mobility, especially what’s called dorsi flexion, or the ability to drive the knee over the toes.
- The split stance ankle mobilisation drill helps us get that normal ankle motion back.
Choose your footwear wisely
- Rather than buying your shoes at a sporting goods store or online, go to a store that specialises in selling running shoes and have them watch you stand, walk and run, and then make shoe recommendations based on YOUR unique body mechanics. Some have excellent machines that do all this for you.(Athletes Foot)
- Ensure the sales person has the experience to correctly advise you or go elsewhere for a second opinion.
Change worn-out shoes
- Running shoes should be replaced around every 6 months.
- If you frequently run on hard surfaces, you’ll need to change your running shoes more often.
Run or exercise on softer surfaces
- If you run on concrete, which is one of the hardest surfaces you could possibly run on, switch to pavement, or better yet, the gravel or grass on the side of the road, off-road running trails, or grass.
- Even better, run barefoot on the sand.
Learn to run correctly
- Run heel to toe. Land on your heels, push off your toes. Don’t run on pre-dominantly on the balls of your feet or your toes. Focus on a relaxed arm action from shoulders to pockets. Check your footprints in the sand. They should line up straight.
- Have your trainer check you are running correctly.
Please note: If you still have shin splints, then perhaps it is something more serious and you need to see an expert exercise physiologist. We highly recommend Kinetic Rehabilitation in Salamander.