Shin splints can affect people of all ages, backgrounds and work profiles. From professional athletes to those belonging to the corporate community, and from teenagers to the elderly, anyone and everyone can be susceptible to a shin splint. Now, as is the case with many medical conditions, in the case of shin splints too, there are two aspects - prevention and cure. Prevention with the help of some exercises, is what we will focus on, in the remainder of this article. However, for those of you who are unaware of what exactly a shin splint is, here is a quick introduction.
Shin Splints Explained
In medical terms, shin splint is referred to as medial tibial stress syndrome. In simple words, a shin splint is when you experience pain in the lower half of the leg (below the knee), on either the frontal surface, or in the inner muscular portion of the leg. It is typically caused due to the inflammation of the muscles surrounding the shin bone, which can happen due to either of the following reasons:
- over-exertion during running and jogging
- incorrect foot landing technique while running
- running on concrete, tar and other hard surfaces
- sudden increase in distance while running or training
- insufficient cushioning due to improper footwear
Exercises that Help
Here are some useful exercises which can help in strengthening your lower leg muscles and reducing the chances of occurrence of this ailment.
Stand with your back against a wall and find something to use as a hand support (for example, the edge of a table, the back of a chair, etc). Lift your left leg halfway from the ground and rest it in the air with your knees bent at an angle of 90 degrees. Now raise your toes upwards towards your shin as much as you can. Next, lower them back down, but to a halfway position. Hold for a second and raise them up once again. Perform 15 such raising-lowering repetitions with your left leg. Once you're done, repeat the same for your right leg.
Toe Raises While Sitting
You can perform the above exercise even while sitting on a chair, at your work desk. Simply stretch your leg forward, bring your toes upwards and then lower them back down. Repeat this 20 times for each leg, and at regular intervals during the day. Another simple toe exercise is to pretend to write something in the air using your toes. It exercises the leg muscles and can reduce the chances of a shin splint.
Calf raises is another good exercise to avoid shin splints. It works by strengthening the rear portion of your lower leg, and in the process, provides proper muscular balance while running, jogging, etc. You can perform 2-3 sets of calf raises (12 repetitions each) in the gym as part of your lower body workout. You can also combine this with a couple of calf stretching exercises for additional effect and better results.
Stand on your toes and lift your arms high in the air. Stretch your body upwards and keeping your toes straight (i.e. pointed forward), walk in a straight line for around 20 meters or so. Then turn around, and in the same manner, walk back to the starting point. Now, maintaining the same hand position, point your toes outwards and walk once again (on your toes) for 20 meters. Turn around and return to the starting point. Lastly, perform the same exercise while pointing your toes inwards.
Raise your hands straight above your head, stretch your body upwards and walk forward for 20 meters, on your heels. Then turn back and return to the starting point in the same way (i.e. while walking on your heels).
These were a few exercises which can help in strengthening your leg muscles. Regularly performing them can reduce the chances of muscle pain and discomfort due to shin splints.