Runner’s World magazine has cited a study indicating that it takes, on average, “71 days to rehab shin splints.” To put it another way, you need almost two-and-a-half months for shin splint rehab! Obviously, the hope is that you’re able to prevent this common sports injury from developing in the first place, but you may be relieved to know you can use stretches to ease shin splint pain.
There are various factors that increase the risk of shin splints. These include wearing worn-out or improper footwear when training, muscular imbalance (particularly tight calf muscles), poor body alignment when running, and flat feet. Another major risk factor is starting a running program at too high an intensity level. Remember, always start a new running or workout program at low levels of intensity and duration, and then gradually increase them over time. (A good target to hit is about a ten-percent increase in distance and/or duration every week.)
If you already have shin splint pain, one of the treatment options we recommend is to stretch out the injured tissue. You can do this with:
- Wall stretches. Start by standing with your back up against a wall. Place both of your heels approximately a foot from the wall (as your body is resting against it). Now raise your feet and keep your heels planted on the ground at the same time. Try reaching your toes as high as possible, then lower them back down (but not all the way to the ground). Repeat this 10-15 times, and then follow by doing the set two more times (for a total of three sets).
- Calf stretches. You can begin this stretch by grabbing a towel and finding a spot on the floor where you can sit with your legs straight in front of you. Looping the towel around the bottom of your feet, gently pull back until you feel your calf muscles stretching. Be careful not to pull too tightly; a gentle pull will do the trick! Hold this stretch for about 15 seconds and then repeat two more times.
- Heel drops. Go to a staircase and, while facing the stairs, stand with your toes on the edge of the first step (your heels should hang over the step). Shift your bodyweight to your left leg, take your right leg off the step, and then carefully lower your left heel down. Raise your left heel back up, and then perform nine more reps. Switch legs, using the same instructions, and then repeat this twice (so three sets of heel drops are performed three times).
Stretching exercises can certainly alleviate shin splint pain, but, even better, they can be used to prevent the injury from happening in the first place. If you would like additional information on how to reduce your risk of injury while running and performing other physical activities, contact our team here at Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida.
If you are suffering from pain in your lower limbs—whether related to sporting activities or otherwise—request an appointment for any of our five Florida locations – Orlando, Kissimmee, Lake Mary, Mt. Dora, and Altamonte Springs. Simply contact us online or give us a call at 407-339-7759 (or 352-589-9550 if you’re calling from Lake County) today!