One of the most effective ways of attacking shin splints is do the correct shin splints exercises.
The definite cause for shin splints might be because of muscle weaknesses or imbalances. While rest might get rid of the problem temporarily; a better strategy is to attack the actual cause of shin splints by strengthening your lower leg, core and gluteal muscles.
Strengthening your lower leg and gluteal muscles allow you to reduce the stress and impact directed at your legs, as well as fix some of the biomechanical issues in running.
Here are some example shin splints exercises that you can try to relieve your pain. It is important to start slow and always stay in your own comfort zone.
Shin splints exercises for the lower leg:
Sitting ankle flex
Use a an elastic exercise band or a rope and loop it around your foot. Create resistance by pulling the rope at your own comfort level. Move your foot up toward your knee (dorsiflexion) and hold a stretch for the calf and achilles for a few seconds.
Then slowly move your feet flat towards the ground (plantarflexion). Keep a small resistance to strengthen the calf and ankle muscles. 10-15 reps.
Straight ankle flex
Repeating the ankle flex with a straight leg adds variation and directs the stretch more to the calf muscle.
Use resistance to push your foot as far away from you as possible. It is important to extend your toes far towards the ground.
Attach the band to a heavy piece of furniture. Start the exercise by pushing your foot away from your body.
Dorsiflex your feet towards your knee and work the tibialis anterior muscle. This is a great exercise for anterior shin splints. Do repetitions of 10 at your own comfort level.
Tie up your elastic band and rotate the feet clockwise making as big of a circle as you can. Pointing your toes far away is sometimes effective for posterior shin splints.
Switch sides and rotate your feet counter-clockwise. The bigger circle you can make the more effective the exercise will be.
Heel and toe walk
Start by walking on your heels and take short steps. If you have soft surface the exercise can be done bare foot. Walk for 25 yards.
Change into walking on your toes for another 25 yards. Repeat the exercises for 3 times. Additional exercises include walking on the inside and outside part of your foot.
Find an elevated platform and place the front part of your foot on it. Hold on to a wall to keep your balance.
Stand on your toes, remain in the top position for a few seconds, go back down and repeat the exercise for reps of 10. A more demanding version is to do single leg calf raises.
Lean to wall or sit down. Lift your toes up slowly and hold for a few seconds. It is an effective treatment for anterior shin splints. One version of the exercise is to simply tap your toes up down, it can be done anywhere you are.
Glute and pelvic exercises:
Weak gluteal muscles have a connection to shin splints. They play an important part in stabilizing your pelvis while running. If the muscles have biomechanical dysfunctions, extra stress is added to your lower legs. Before starting your squats or lunges it is important to strengthen and stabilize the pelvic area with exercises that won’t compromise the legs.
This exercise engages your gluteus medius muscle. Start by lying on your side, legs bent to a 90 degree angle. Keep your hips neutral and on top of each other the entire exercise.
Place your hands along your iliac crest to avoid rotating your body. Slowly lift your knee up while keeping your hips in place. For more resistance you can add an elastic band around your knees. Repeat 25 times each side.
This is an effective gluteus maximus exercise which adds very little stress to other parts of your body. Start by laying on your back with bent knees. Activate your core by moving your abdominals towards the ground.
Life your hips up and keep your body aligned. Squeeze your glutes to ensure you are doing the exercise properly. Stay in the top position for 10 seconds and repeat 15 times.
This is exercise is designed to maintain a proper pelvic tilt. Stand straight on an elevated platform. Tilt your pelvis and drop your leg slightly lower than the other.
Pull the pelvis slowly up using your gluteal muscles and hips. Continue doing the motion and engage your muscles for repetitions of 15. Avoid bending your knees for this exercise.
After making substantial gains from the previous exercises squats can be added to the workout routine. Start by standing straight with the feet aligned slightly outwards with your shoulder width.
Keep the weight on your heels, bend the knees and reach back. Keep your back straight and avoid leaning forward. Continue for repetitions of 10 and follow your own strength levels.
Single leg squat
Single leg squat is a more difficult exercise than the normal squat. Stand on one leg and place your hand on the wall for better balance.
Keep your weight on your heels and use the same technical principles as in a normal squat. Ensure that everything aligned and leveled and repeat the exercise for maximum repetitions of 10.
Take a look at our shin splints stretches to reduce tension in your lower legs and enhance recovery between running sessions. We have also compiled an updated list of equipment for shin splints which includes useful tools to make your shin splints exercises more effective.