Exercises to Prevent Shin Splints
Shin splints are a painful condition that is a result of your lower legs compensating for stresses placed upon other areas of the body. In turn, the shins themselves can become quite tender and inhibit you from performing even the simplest of activities such as walking or running. However, there are some easy exercises that can help to alleviate this condition. Let us take a brief look at a handful of the most common.
Curling Your Toes
This rather minimalistic exercise can work wonders for shin splints. As toe curls are also a low-impact movement, they are excellent if other methods may be too painful in the beginning. To perform this exercise, stand on the edge of a towel with your feet approximately as wide as your shoulders. With one foot, begin to pull the towel towards you by curling your toes inward. Once you have pulled the towel as far as it can go, repeat with the other side. It helps if the floor is wood or tile so that the towel can slide easily.
One again, begin this movement with your feet as wide apart as your shoulders. The toes should be pointed slightly outward as well. Use a resistance band and place it around both of your middle thighs. Step out diagonally to the front with your right leg. Then, bring the left leg forward so that it meets the right. Repeat this movement with the other foot. The added resistance of the elastic band will cause your legs to work harder; strengthening the supporting muscles and taking some of the pressure off of your shins.
Bridges with One Leg
Lay flat on the floor and place your arms out to their sides. Your knees should be bent approximately 45 degrees while your feet remain firmly planted on the floor. To begin, squeeze your abdomen and your bottom so that your hips are slightly raised off of the floor. Then, extend the right leg until the knee is virtually straight and the leg is off of the ground (approximately a 30-degree angle above the floor). Hold for 30 seconds, lower the leg and repeat with the other side. Keep in mind that in the beginning, 30 seconds may be too difficult. In this case, hold for as long as you can. Your body will strengthen over time.
The Heel Drop
Find a step or a platform and position yourself so that your toes alone are on the corner. Lift your left leg up so that all of the weight is on your right leg. Then, lower your right heel down and back up. Repeat on the other side. These are also known as standing calf raises. You can either alternate back and forth between legs or perform a number of repetitions until you become fatigued on one side. For added flexibility, hold the position at the bottom for a few seconds to stretch out the calf muscle.
These are all excellent low-impact exercises that will help to lessen the pain of shin splints over time. Still, you may feel that the splints are persisting. In this case, please feel free to contact The Foot and Leg Clinic for a biomechanical assessment. There is no reason to continue to live in pain.