Fix Your Sh*t: Shin Splints Edition
Shin splints (AKA medial tibial stress syndrome) - the bane to any running athlete’s existence! The worst part? For a lot of athletes these can become a chronic issue once their season gets going - plaguing them every game, every race - hindering their performance.
Most of the time this is a result from athletes trying to do too much too soon - the 0-100 approach from off-season to in-season. This doesn’t give your body time to adapt to the new stresses being placed on it.
A lot of the time what I see is these athletes then get taped up before every game/match/event to keep things at bay. This is a band-aid approach and band-aids are NOT good enough.
Fixing your shin splints starts with understanding what they are (sometimes I find athletes can have other things that mimic shin splint pain) and then working on the factors that contribute to causing them.
WHAT ARE SHIN SPLINTS?
Shin splints are an inflammation of the muscles that attach to your tibia (your main shin bone). It ends up causing pain on the INNER side of your shin. These are normally not too serious, however if not treated properly there is a chance of a bone stress fracture developing.
Now, the big question is WHY do they get inflamed and overworked in the first place? There are a couple of common things I see that lead to these bad boys rearing their ugly head:
Over pronation (arch collapse)
Increasing training load too aggressively
Poor footwear choices
5 WAYS TO FIX YOUR SHIN SPLINTS
1. Work on Your Foot And Ankle Control
- Wrap a band in a figure 8 around both ankles
- Go up on to your toes and slowly lower down
- Push out into the resistance of the band
Perform 3 sets of 12 reps
2. Work on Your Hip External Rotation
- Sit with your legs in a 90-90 position
- Relax over your leg into the stretch
- Repeat on the other side
Perform 2 sets of 8 reps
3. Improve Your Hip Rotary Stability
- Attach a band to something sturdy and low to the ground
- Wrap the band around your shoulders (if it's not long
enough tie it to a belt)
- Stand on one leg (the one closest to the band)
- Turn your body towards your stance leg
- Slowly return to the starting position
Perform 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps
4. Implement A Gradual Return to Running Plan
- Resume your running with intervals first
- Gradually increase the duration of your runs while using
- Lengthen the intervals gradually until you are back to
running as usual
5. Pick the Right Shoes
(Footwear is a BIG ONE and a complex topic all on its own, so if you’re interested in seeing if your shoes are working with you or against you - tune in to the next post where we ask the experts over at Shoe Solutions! They are going to give us tips on what our footwear can do to help prevent shin splints.)
HOW LONG DO SHIN SPLINTS TAKE TO HEAL?
This is one of those answers everyone hates to hear - it depends. The recovery can take anywhere from weeks to months depending on the person, the severity, the cause, etc…
The KEY to a speedier recovery: begin treating them properly sooner vs. later.
If you have any questions don't hesitate to reach out! #RecoverBetter