Protect an injury-prone spot with these simple moves.
By Caitlin Carlson
You don’t think about your shins until they hurt. And by then, you could be looking at some major downtime. A recent study found that it takes, on average, 71 days to rehab shin splints. Shin splints (the term for pain that occurs on the front outside part of the lower leg) often occurs when your legs are overworked. That’s sometimes from a jump in mileage. And sometimes because your shins pick up the slack for body parts that are weak, says Susan Joy, M.D., a sports and exercise medicine physician with Cleveland Clinic Sports Health. Protect yourself by strengthening your feet, ankles, calves, and hips, which support your shins. Do two to three sets of 10 to 15 reps daily (but not before a run):
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.
With feet shoulder-width apart, place a resistance band around your thighs and step forward and toward the right with your right leg. Bring your left leg up to meet your right, then step out toward the left. Then walk backward in the same way to return to the start. Repeat.
Stand on your toes on the edge of a step. Shift your weight to your right leg, take your left foot off the step, and lower your right heel down. Return to start, and then repeat with your left leg.
Lie on your back with your arms out to the sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes to lift your hips up off the floor. Extend your left leg out and hold for 30 seconds (work up to 60-second holds), then lower it. Repeat with your other leg.
Here are some tips that will help alleviate your shin pain:
Massage with Ice
Freeze a paper cup filled with water, tear off the top edge of the cup, and massage with comfortable pressure along the inside of the shinbone for 10 to 15 minutes after running to reduce inflammation.
Add Arch Support
By “lifting” the arch with insoles, you take stress off of your lower legs. You don’t need to use these forever if you do strength work–think of insoles like a splint for your foot and remove them once you’re fully recovered. Try different options available at running specialty stores.
Stretch & Rest
Loosen up tight calves and Achilles tendons–both can contribute to shin splints. Reduce running mileage and do low-impact cross-training (biking, swimming, elliptical) instead. When you resume your training, ease in gradually. Too much too soon could cause a relapse.