Running with shin splints is generally not advised. It is always better to take a rest and let your body heal in time instead of trying to fight through the injury. Continuing to run with a shin splints injury can create an even bigger problems and may in some cases be dangerous for your body.
However, sometimes we are faced with situations where rest is not possible or we simply do not want to lose the fitness level we’ve worked so hard for. For example much of a professional or a college athletes career depends on their athletic abilities. There are times when external pressure is too much and the cost of resting is too heavy.
There are a few alternatives exercises you can do to maintain your fitness level while recovering from shin splints. For some, doing these alternative exercises have even helped to to obtain a higher fitness level than would have been possible with regular training. It’s important to remember that you can do hard workouts even with shin splints, but all impacts should be avoided.
Deep water running or aqua jogging
This is easily one of the best exercises for staying in shape. I have seen any athletes come back and even improve their fitness levels while recovering from an injury.
Aqua jogging is usually done in the deep end of the pool, where your feet cannot reach the bottom. It can be done using a floating device on your waist. Or in more advanced levels without any.
You do a running motion in the water and slowly move forward. The water creates resistance and the exercise can be tiresome for beginners. Some prefer to continuously run in the deep end for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Others take a rest when reaching one round of back and forth in the pools deep end.
Deep water running can be also used for sprinting by going as fast as you can for 10-30 seconds and taking the appropriate rest. All workouts should be done based on the goals and fitness level of the athlete. Exercises done in water for people with shin splints as there is no impact involved and the water might even have a massaging effect.
It is important to try to create a proper running motion and maintaining an upright posture. It is easy to cheat in this workout, but it would defeat the purpose. Challenge yourself to do it the right way. The goal is not to move forward as fast as possible, but to do the motion the right way.
Rowing can be a great alternative full body workout. Using your legs and pulling in a wide motion basically uses the whole body and can make your hearth beat real quick. You can change the resistance based on your own fitness level.
Shins are not stressed in this exercise, because there is no impact to the joins or muscles of the lower leg. You can use a strap to lock your feet solidly to reduce the movement of the ankle.
Using a rowing machine works out your back, your arms, your core and your legs. Just be sure to maintain a correct posture and warm up before starting.
Elliptical training is another great tool for runners to maintain their fitness. They can be found in most gyms. It resembles running but your feet do not get a lot of impact staying in place similarly to cycling.
Good elliptical machines allow you to change the angle of the running to work different muscle groups. They also have programs that change the resistance of the workout in time. One tip for runners is to let their arms go free on a running motion and work on proper technique while being able to be in more stable position than in normal running.
It is essential to add variety in your workouts while trying to treat shin splints. Doing these three workouts, along with strength training that doing create stress or impact to the lower legs can almost guarantee shin splints won’t take away your best shape.
For strengthening your body and lower legs see our exercise guide.