Shin splints hurt, and if you do not take them seriously, it starts to hurt so much that you have to stop your sport or whatever physical activity you are doing. You will experience pain along the inner aspect of the shin bone, which is initially mild and only present at the end of your exercise or activity. With time, if it is not treated, it gets worse and may cause intense pain even at rest.
Shin splints occur when there is an additional strain on your lower leg bones and muscles. This is often a result of doing too much too soon. Recent studies show that shin splints can keep athletes away from their physical activities and sports for an average of at least 72 days. So strengthen your feet, ankles, and calves to avoid having shin splints.
Here are a few strengthening exercises that you could try:
- Toe curls – Stand at the edge of a towel with your feet hip-width apart. Starting from the left, curl your toes gathering the towel towards you. Return to your start position and do the same with the other foot.
- Heel drop – Stand on your toes on the edge of a step. While shifting your weight to the right leg, lift the left leg off the stair. Now slowly push your right heel down. Repeat the same on the left side.
- One-legged bridges – Lie down on the floor with your arms spread apart, knees flexed, and feet touching the ground completely. Now lift your hips off the ground and extend your left leg left out and hold on for about 30 seconds. Repeat the same with the opposite leg. Try to increase the time you hold the extended leg.
- Monster walks exercise – Stand with your feet width apart and wear a resistance band at the level of your thighs. Move your right leg forward and to the right and then move the left leg forward and to the left. Walk backwards the same way to come back to your starting position. Repeat the exercise from the start.
- Standing on your toes – Stand with your legs together with the heels together and toes pointing out. Slowly raise your heels and stand on your toes for about 10 seconds and come back to the original position. Repeat the exercise 10 times.
- Trace the alphabet with your toes – While seated, draw the alphabet using your toes. Repeat the same with the opposite leg. This exercise is good to prevent shin splints. Do this at least three times a day.
Try these exercises to prevent shin splints in the future. However, if you do develop a shin splint, take some active rest at the beginning itself. Moreover, keep in mind not to do too much exercise in one day or increase your duration and intensity of exercises too fast. A slow and gradual increase of the exercises is the best way to avoid shin splints. Do not increase the intensity and duration of your exercises by more than 10% per week.