Save Yourself from Shin Splints
By Denis Faye
From the Million Dollar Body Club - Join Today and Workout to
asked you to pound your entire body weight onto your hands, repeatedly, for an
hour a day, six days a week, you'd probably tell me to get lost. Yet, if you're
reading this, you probably do the exact same thing to your feet everyday when
you work out, jog, or shoot hoopsand if you're not careful about it, your feet
will let you know they aren't too happy about it, via your shins. Doctors and
physical therapists call this message Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome. We call it
shin splints. Shin splints refer to pain in your tibia, or shinbone, and they
are caused by overloading the bone and the connective tissue that attaches your
muscles to the bone. There are a few reasons this happens.
likely cause is stressed muscles that become swollen and irritated from
overuse. If this is the case, it's a simple fix and we'll discuss some
solutions below. A second cause might be that you have flat feet, meaning your
arches collapse, again stressing muscles. It's fairly obvious if you have flat
feet (because, um, your feet are flat), and if this is the case, orthotics or
arch supports can help. If you have access to custom orthotics from an
orthopedist . . . great. If not, there are plenty of over-the-counter insoles
and arch supports that might help. Just because one doesn't work, don't give
up. It might take buying a few different kinds to find something comfortable
A third and more serious cause of shin
splints is stress fracturessmall, hairline cracks in your lower leg
bones. If this is the case, the pain tends to be sharper and more localized,
with tenderness a few inches below the knee. If you suspect a stress fracture,
talk to your doctor. Regardless of the cause, the first step in shin splint
management is a few days' rest and some ice. While you're resting, if your
shins keep hurting, go see a doctor. If you start exercising again and the pain
increases, go see a doctor. If your shin starts swelling, go see a doctor. But
if none of these things happen, then home remedies will most likely solve the
problem. So we've come up with a little something called the Four S's of Saving
Your Shins from Splints.
- Surface. Each time your foot hits the
ground, your musculoskeletal system absorbs a shockwave. The softer the
surface, the smaller the shockwave. If you run, look for a good track that
gives little resistance or consider running on grass or off-road. Whatever you
do, stay off the pavement. If you work out at home, exercise on carpeted
flooring or get yourself a small rug to stand on. Better still, a floor mat,
like Beachbody's Plyometrics
Mat, works perfectly.
A good pair of sneakers can also absorb that shockwave.
Jogging shoes tend to be ideal for this. If you're active, count on replacing
footwear at least a couple of times a year. Your shoes may not look worn out
after six months, but the internal support structure and shock absorbency have
probably broken down.
Before you work out, warm up the muscles that support your
shins. A great stretch for this is to push against a wall with your hands. As
you do this, straighten one leg, bending your other leg at the knee, keeping
both feet flat on the ground. You should feel a stretch in the calf of your
straight leg. Repeat, switching legs.
There's also the tibialis
anterior muscle stretch. Squat really low in front of a bar or something
else you can grip. Lean back and pull yourself forward while keeping your feet
flat. You'll feel the stretch under your shin.
Strong shins can take more punishment. One super shin
strengthener is toe raises, which train your tibialis anterior muscle.
To do these, stand with your back against a wall and feet in front of you,
about a foot from the wall, shoulder-width apart. Keeping your heels on the
floor, raise your toes and lower them. Repeat 40 times.
Another strengthening exercise is calf raises. Stand
on a stair or a stool so that your heels hang off the edge. Slowly rise up on
your toes and the balls of your feet, and then slowly lower down again. Do
three sets of ten. Once this gets easy, do it while holding weights. You can
also do these with your toes pointed in and your toes pointed out.
The four S's are not only the ideal
way to manage most shin splints, they're the ideal way to prevent them, too. So
don't wait for the shockwave to overtake you before you start doing them.
Remember, your shins have been good to you for years, it's about time you gave