What are shin splints?
Shin splints are micro tears or excessive increased tension of the muscles along the tibia
They cause the tibia to be inflamed and/or the periosteum around the bone to be irritated
If left untreated shin splints can cause stress fractures.
What can cause shin splints?
There are two main causes of shin splints
Over striding while running: your foot comes out too far in front of your body with each stride placing excessive forces on your tibia.
Poor foot and hip control: this places excessive strain on the muscles in the calf causing the muscles to pull on the Tibia.
How much force does your body absorb when running?
When you run your foot hits the ground over 1500 steps per mile.
With each step your body absorbs 1-2 times your body weight in impact forces.
These forces can increase and decrease based on how much you over stride and how well your body is able to use the force to propel you forward.
The more energy wasted means there is more energy your body must absorb. The more energy your body absorbs the more your body is breaking down and must repair itself.
3 exercises to help decrease pain for shin splints
Decreasing the tension in calf musculature: Rolling out the calf with a peanut roller. 3 minutes each calf.
2. Proper foot mobility: lacrosse ball under feet. Stand with the lacrosse ball on the outer edge of foot - as pictured below. Place feet out and turn your hips back and forth while feeling a slight stretch on the bottom of your foot. Perform for 90 sec each foot.
3. Foot to hip connection strengthening - 3 way single leg deadlift. Perform a single leg deadlift on one leg while keeping your hips forward and your body in a straight line from your foot to your head. Perform 3 sets on each leg. Aim to a target and try to touch the target with your hand such as the shoe in the pictured example.
Wearing compression sleeves helps to calm down the neuromuscular system and can relieve the increased tension your body may build up in your calf during a run.
Dry needling by a Physical Therapist can also be very helpful in decreasing the tension of the calf musculature.
When bone and muscles are inflamed/irritated to a certain extent your body may need a break from running. It is great to still do the above exercises while taking the break.
Clinics, U., 2022. Shin splints: The runner's pain. [online] University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.
Dicharry J. Running Rewired: Reinvent Your Run for Stability, Strength & Speed. Boulder, CO: VeloPress; 2017. https://anathletesbody.com/my-books/