Management of shin splints
Despite the lack of consensus of what shin splints are; fortunately, experts agree on how to treat them. It is agreed that when shin splints strike you should stop running completely or decrease your training depending on the extent and duration of pain. Then, as a first step, ice your shin to reduce inflammation.
Some important stretches and treatment methods include:
If you have medial shin splints, gently stretch your Achilles. For anterior shin splints, stretch the calves.
- Kneel on a carpeted floor, legs and feet together and toes pointed directly back. Then slowly sit back onto your calves and heels, pushing your ankles into the floor until you feel tension in the muscles of your shin. Hold for 10 to 12 seconds, relax and repeat.
- In a sitting position, trace the alphabet on the floor with your toes. Do this with each leg. Or alternate walking on your heels for 30 seconds with 30 seconds of regular walking. Repeat four times. These exercises are good for both recovery and prevention. Try to do them three times a day.
- For anterior shin splints ensure you roll out the calves through use of the foam roller. Then move on to calf raises to strengthen the fibers adequately.
- If you continue running, depending on the extent of the pain, wrap your leg before you go out. Use either tape or an Ace bandage, starting just above the ankle and continuing to just below the knee. Keep wrapping your leg until the pain goes away, which usually takes three to six weeks. "What you're doing is binding the tendons up against the shaft of the shin to prevent stress," Laps says.
Consider cross-training for a while to let your shin heal. Swim, run in the pool or ride a bike in the mean time. On return to running ensure it is a gradual increase in mileage. Avoid hills and excessively hard surfaces until shin pain goes away completely, and then re-introduce them gradually to prevent a recurrence. Make sure correct running shoes are worn; if in doubt take the time to be assessed by a podiatrist or a running specialist. Two pairs of shoes can be alternated to vary the stresses on your legs.
Most importantly if you are prone to developing shin splints, make sure you continue with an appropriate calf stretching/foam-rolling program in combination with calf raises regularly as a preventative measure.
If shin splints are hindering your running and activity the physiotherapist's at Physio on Brunswick can help. Servicing Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, New Farm and surrounding suburbs we have same day appointments available. Call 3252 5277 to book or pop in to see our friendly reception team.