Combating Shin Splints

ONE OF THE MOST COMMON RUNNING INJURIES

Here's everything you need to know about what causes them, how to get rid of them and what exercises you need to keep them away.


AT THE BEGINNING OF TRACK

every fall the shin splints would come back. As a Pole Vaulter, the beginning of the season consisted of longer runs, 800's and below, to build a base for the upcoming season. It never failed after the first week of pre-season conditioning the shin splints would start. Luckily, as a collegiate athlete I had a team of athletic trainers dedicated to keeping us athletes healthy and injury free.

When you spend more hours in the Athletic Training Room before and after practice than you do running you pick up lots of good information. Here's what I've learned over the years about combating shin splints.


WHAT CAUSES SHIN SPLINTS?

The term "Shin Splint" is a little broad. There can be varying degrees of shin splints and many different causes that lead to different outcomes. You can also get shin splints on the front side of the shins and the backside of the shins. Let's chat about some common causes of shin splints!

Poor running form can cause the worst type of shin splints. When you strike on you heal in front of your hips, over-striding, consistently your bones have no cushion. The constant pounding of your heals into the ground can lead to shin splints on the shin bone. When this happens you run the risk of giving yourself a stress fracture. Fixing your running form is key!

A more common cause of shin splints is a tight Tibialis Anterior or Tibialis Posterior. These are the muscles that runs along the outside and backside of the shin bone. When these muscles become tight they pull on the bone and cause pain every time they're used. Muscles become tight and develop knots because there is lack of warming up, over working, not rehabbing or a combination of all of the above.

The good news is that all of this can be fixed!


WARM UP. STRENGTHEN. REHAB.

The first line of defense against shin splits is warming up the calves and the Tibialis Anterior. One of the first drills you should do before even jogging is walking forward on our toes for 15 yards and backwards on our heals for 15 yards and repeat that two to three times. Then move into some double leg ankle pops, also known as pogo hops, for 15 yards. This will warm up the ankles and the muscles surrounding the shins, add these to your warm up routine to keep the shin splints at bay!

The next thing you want to be doing is adding some strengthening exercises. If you're getting shin splints on the regular whats likely happening is that your TA, TP and Calves are being overworked and aren't strong enough to keep up with the amount of running you're putting them through. Weighted calf raises are a phenomenal exercise that every running based athlete should be doing. The TA Crunch is another one of my favorites for strengthening the Tibialis Anterior. Check out the video below to see what a TA Crunch is!



Finally, pre and post workout rehab is extremely extremely important. This means  heating the muscles before your workout with a heat pack or using a compression sleeve, icing your muscles after a workout, rolling before and after your workouts and yes, TAKING REST DAYS!

Make some Ice Massage tools! Take a couple of plastic cups and fill them with water, then place them in your freezer. Once the water is fully frozen take the cup and remove the block of ice. Use that block of ice to rub up and down your calves and tibialis anterior. This is one of my favorite ways to recover because you're icing and rolling at the same time! You want to be applying lots of pressure to the muscles. This isn't a relaxing Swedish Massage this is a rehab rub out! It should be a little uncomfortable and possibly painful. The best time for an ice massage is post right after you finish your workout.

I hope that this was helpful for y'all! I'd love to see your rehab photos on social media! Tag me in your posts on Instagram @SoFit_Sonya and use the hashtags #RunWithSonya and #TrainLikeAnAthlete so I can follow you!



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