Managing shin splint pain is never an easy task. Shin splints are the WORST. As a track athlete for most of my life, I was always aware of the common ailments plaguing track athletes with hamstring strains and shin splints being the most common. From experience, I know that once shin splints begin to set in they only worsen unless vigorously addressed. A plan of prevention is what will create sustainable intensity increases as the season goes on for competitive H.S., NCAA and Pro Runners. There are ways to navigate and mitigate this chronic, pesky issue. But just a reminder, they do take some serious TLC to regain control and run pain free. The best defense is a good offense, so be proactive!
What are shin splints and how do they begin? There are a couple different ways in which shins splints show their ugly face. One issue begins from overuse, when muscles around the area swell and the pressure against the shin bone (tibia) limits blood flow. This causes the throbbing pain sensation, creates inflammation, and kills our will to run at our best. Shin splints can also be caused by micro bone fractures. Constant pounding can cause micro-fractures in the tibia and healing these structures can only happen while limiting workloads. The body can repair the cracks if given time to rest along with using these remedies below.
Steps To Managing Shin Splint Pain
- Ice baths or ice applications to either the anterior or posterior tibia (shin bone) can reduce inflammation and swelling. As with most acute injuries, ice can help subside inflammation, restoring optimal blood flow. Restoring blood flow will help the healing process. This is the most widely used and recommended way to manage shin splint pain.
- Banded ankle inversions & eversions with dorsiflexion for 3 seconds at a time each direction. Do this for 3-4 sets, 2-3 times a week to strengthen stabilizers throughout the ankle.
- Eccentric strengthening of the tibialis muscle group allows the limb to be strengthened while it also lengthens the inflamed muscle tissue.
If you have a step or stair, you can stand with your heels on the edge of it and toes pointed down. Raise up your toes higher than your ankles and then lower 3 seconds to the starting position. Do this for 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.
If you have a teammate or partner also experiencing shin splints, you can do a similar exercise with your partner resisting your ankle flexion and extension. They should focus on pressing hard on the way down, with you moving through the full range of motion while resisting their push on the way down.
- Another alternative to ankle inversion and eversions would be to stand on 1-foot while you brush your teeth. Alternate each foot every 30 seconds. This easy routine will create slight instability through the “brushing” motion forcing Peroneus Longus, Brevis and Tertius to stabilize the body through the foot.
- Stretch your Achilies tendons with either your foot wedged against a wall, or flat on the ground depending on tightness and drive your knee towards the same wall for 1 Min. per leg to stretch the insertion of the calf (Gastrocnemius and Soleus).
- Straight leg stretching is a great way to stretch the origin or high point of the calf muscles. The gastrocnemius is a multi-joint muscle and must be addressed at the knee joint as well as at the ankle.
- Take away the pounding. It’s not always realistic to stop running or competing all together. We must adapt our training methods to accommodate for an increase in training load. There are several ways to run and workout that create less stress on our shins. Running up hills, stairs, running in swimming pools and on grass are all great alternatives to regular track or hard surface running.
- Poor running and jumping mechanics can exacerbate shin splint issues! Come see a qualified professional at Elite Speed who can teach you how to become the fastest, most durable athlete you can be!
Try these quick and easy steps for managing shin splint pain! Additional information can be found HERE.
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