How To Stretch Shin Splints
“Stretching is an unquestionably important element to alleviating the symptoms of shin splints as well as avoiding stress fractures. Without gradual training and building up of muscles, as you increase their activity and mileage, these muscles start to break down. They lose support from other tissues in your legs and become stressed due to overuse or extreme conditions. If you’re not careful about stretching, it can result in injuries that may require surgery.
The most common type of shin injury occurs when a runner’s foot lands too far forward on the ground, resulting in pressure being exerted on the outer bone of the tibia by the inner bones of the feet (metatarsals) instead of landing directly under the ball of the foot. The tibia needs support for its outer bone; without this support, it becomes more vulnerable to fracture. A simple way to prevent this injury is to keep your toes pointed slightly outward while running. This will help guide your foot back onto the ground, rather than pushing too far ahead. It also helps to avoid pronation, which is rolling your foot inward toward the middle of your body. Pronated ankles are often associated with shin splint pain and problems.
Another problem that can cause shin splints is excessive lateral rotation of the knee joint. Lateral rotation means rotating the knees outwards so that they face straight ahead, rather than facing at an angle of 90 degrees. Excessive rotation of the ankle joint can also lead to shin splints. Rotating your ankles inwards, or valgus-type motion, results in tightness and weakness of ligaments around the joints. In particular, the medial ligament of the ankle is very susceptible to damage caused by excessive inversion and eversion. These types of motions can be corrected through physical therapy.
Shins can also get injured from improper footwear. Improperly fitting shoes can put unnecessary strain on muscles, tendons and ligaments, causing them to weaken and tear. Shoes should fit comfortably, but not excessively snugly. Your shoes should have plenty of room for movement, and shouldn’t rub or press on the inside of your shoe. Too much material between your toes and soles can also cause discomfort. Running with high heels causes extra pressure on the arch of the foot, leading to increased risk of shin splints. High heels should only be worn during special occasions.
If you suffer from shin splints, don’t forget that you need to stretch before exercise. Stretching isn’t just good for preventing injury, but also helps to improve flexibility and range of motion. It also reduces muscle spasms and increases blood flow to the affected area. You can do some stretches to alleviate shin splint pain and soreness after exercising. However, if you feel any sharp pains, stop immediately and consult your doctor. He or she might prescribe a strengthening program for you.
Here are some tips on how to perform easy stretches for shin splints.
Toe Curls – Stand bent over with one leg extended in front of you and place your hands behind your lower thighs. Now slowly curl your toes towards your chest, then release them back to the floor. Repeat 10 times.
Calf Raises – Sit on the floor or step bench with both feet flat together. Raise your left calf up until it touches your right thigh. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Hamstring Stretch – Lie on your side with your forearm propped against a wall. Cross your upper thigh over your lower thigh, keeping your hips parallel to the floor. Gently pull your hamstring towards your chest, hold for 15 seconds, then repeat on opposite side.
Foot Roll – Lay on your stomach and bend your elbows. Put your palms underneath your shoulders. Lift your torso off the floor and roll your feet away from your head, turning your feet to point downward. Keep your arms relaxed. Slowly raise your torso back to the starting position, allowing your feet to fall back to the floor. Do 3 sets of 20 repetitions.
These exercises are designed to relieve shin splint pain and stiffness, and restore mobility. However, if you are suffering from severe pain, seek immediate medical attention.
For more information on stretching, read our article How To Properly Stretch For Better Flexibility & Joint Mobility [http://www.FitnessHQ.com/article_view.asp?cat=1&id=10].”
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