By: Mark Young, PT, DPT , Center Manager at Flanders Center
Many athletes suffer from shin splints, particularly runners. The most common reason is the repetitive stress that occurs when the foot hits the ground and causes the arch to collapse.
This movement makes the foot to roll inward and creates a bending force through the shin bone (tibia). Repetition of this creates an inflammatory reaction that leads to pain and, if not managed, eventually can lead to fracture.
These three tips can help athletes prevent this painful situation:
Manage your footwear
- Have a physical therapist evaluate the structure of your foot and recommend the proper sneaker / orthotic. This can limit the amount the foot rolls in and block the problematic bending force through the tibia.
Manage your training regimen
- Shin splints tend to happen when an athlete either is just beginning to train, or increasing training volume. Be sure that any increases in your training happen gradually.
- It is a good idea to take five to seven days of rest during increased training. This allows the bone time to heal and respond to the recently increased stress.
Train your glutes
- Strength training your glutes will give you the hip rotational control you need to reduce the mechanics that cause shin splints.
Below are examples:
- Side-lying straight leg raise: Lie on your side with your top knee straight. Lift your leg in the air, making sure not to move your trunk.
- Band walking: Tie a band in a loop and wrap it around the balls of your feet. Keep your feet pointed forward, walk sideways and feel the burn.
- Split squats: Balance on one leg with the other foot on a chair behind you. Squat down using your standing leg, being sure not to let your knee fall to the inside of your foot.