If you happen to be a runner, that’s great. It’s an awesome way to exercise, and the benefits are well documented.
One of the more common running maladies we see in the clinic is something called “shin splints.”
The most common type of shin splints we see (there are 2 types), and the ones that cause pain along the front of the shins, especially when running.
The basic cause of this type of pain is overuse of the muscles along the front of the lower legs (these muscles lift your toes and ankle up as your clear your feet while running).
If you think of how much these muscles are working when you run, you can start to imagine why they’d get irritated.
Just this last week, a friend of mine came to me with shin splints after she had started running again.
She received some free advice from another PT who told her to just rest and wait it out, but this just didn’t work for my friend.
2 weeks later and she still can’t run. I know she’s losing the gains she made.
So I have some better advice for you…
If you’re suffering from shin splints, the single best exercise you can do is this: regular calf stretching.
While it is important to stretch the muscles that are actually sore (the ones along the front of your shins), tightness in the calves can actually be causing extra strain and tension on these muscles, thereby creating more and more irritation.
When I looked over my friend, sure enough her calf muscles were tighter on her painful leg.
So how do you stretch your calves? There are a few ways, but the most common stretch is the “runner’s stretch” where you put both hands up against a wall, put the leg you want to stretch back behind your body, and while keeping your heel on the ground, lean your body/ankle forward towards the wall.
This should result in a nice pulling/stretching sensation high on your calf muscle, just behind the knee.
As long as you’re experiencing a comfortable stretch, you can go ahead and hold it for 30-60 seconds and repeat 2-3 times on each leg.
Are calf stretches all you need to do?
Not necessarily, but they’re a great place to start. If you have persistent shin splints, you should probably check your footwear and also consider icing your muscles after you run.
One more thing…
Since we love kinesio-taping these days (k-taping), there’s a cool way you can tape the ankle to take some additional pressure off the involved muscles.
I’ll be posting a video soon to our YouTube channel, so make sure to check it in a copy days (if you get these blog posts by email, I’ll send you another message).
Last thing: if you end up struggling with shin splints, or any other running injuries, and can’t seem to get over the hump by yourself, please give us a call at 509.892.5442.
We’d be happy to set you up with one of our PTs for a free 30-minute Discovery Session. No referral needed. No co-pay.
Monday 7:00 am - 6:00 pm
Tuesday 7:00 am - 6:00 pm
Wednesday 7:00 am - 6:00 pm
Thursday 7:00 am - 6:00 pm
Friday 7:00 am - 5:00 pm
Gordon Physical Therapy Spokane Valley
626 North Mullan Road #4, Spokane Valley, WA 99206
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