Exercises to Prevent Shin Splints

After months of forced inactivity, pushed on you by the cold, dark winter, you’re doubtlessly thrilled for the upcoming start of track and field season. Unfortunately, your excitement to get back to the track could greatly increase your chances of injury, especially from pesky shin splints. To keep you mobile, a proper warmup is incredibly important.

For some detailed information about the causes and treatment of shin splints, see this past post. In the meantime, here are some easy exercises that you can include in your warmup to help ward off the splints.

The Exercises

The basic principle at work when it comes to preventing shin splints is that of balance in your lower-leg. Your connective tissue and muscles need to be properly stretched and conditioned in the full range of motion that you’ll require of them during the actual activity. To that end, try adding these at the end of your warmup, when everything is already lose.

  1. Walk On Your Toes- For about 20 to 30 meters, raise yourself up on the balls of your feet. Walk slowly and focus on maintaining your balance. Trying to do this one too quickly could be counterproductive. As you walk, life the active leg high enough that your thigh is parallel to the ground.
  2. Walk On Your Heels- Go another 20 to 30 meters on your heels. Again, move slowly through this drill so that your heels don’t aggressively strike the ground. Keep your toes flexed upwards throughout the movement. Continue to lift your leg high to place your thigh parallel with the ground.
  3. Toe Lifts- Stand still, with your big toes touching and your heels wide apart. Slowly lift yourself up onto your toes and lower back down again. Repeat this a total of 10 times.
  4. Heel Lifts- Reverse the placement of your feet so that your heels are touching and your toes are pointing away from each other. Lift yourself up onto your heels and slowly lower back down. Repeat this for 10 reps.

Remember, even though the most common cause of shin splints is overtraining, they can also be a sign of stress fractures. If you have any persistent pain after your workouts, you should see a doctor. It’s important to note, as well, that shin splints appear after exercise rather than during. Sudden, sharp pain while you’re running could be a symptom of something else and you should stop that activity immediately.

What are some of your tips for preventing shin splints?