Smutty Fitness: Help With Shin Splints

May 21, 2012 13:09:18 Posted at May 21, 2012 13:09:18
Hayley Posted by Hayley

Hi Hayley,
On Sunday I ran the Sporting Life 10 km, an annual fundraiser race that supports Camp Oochigeas. Camp Ooch is a great voluntary, non-profit organization that offers year-round programs for children affected by childhood cancer as well as a summer camp (interested readers can donate here) While the downhill route of the Sporting Life run makes for a fun and fast race, it inevitably also means that my friends and I have shin splints for a while afterwards. I try to ice when I get home, but I’m still limping for a good week. Any suggestions on what we can do to speed up recovery and prevent this on future downhill runs? Thanks!

Shin splints are an inflammation injury and although it may seem like it is not something serious, if they are left untreated they can end in a stress fracture.  I have dealt with shin splints many times and I know how painful and debilitating they can be so here is what I do to try and speed up my recovery as well as prevent them from occurring next time.

One of the major causes of shin splints is having tight calves, Achilles and soleus. To keep these muscles loose try doing self myofascial release (which simply is self massage using a foam roller or a magic stick.  Using these on a daily basis, combined with stretching, will help with the shin splint pain as well prevent it from happening again.  Also, keeping up with your core is very important and will ensure proper biomechanics of the lower extremities.  

The second thing I like to do is give my shins an ice massage.  I take plastic Dixie cups, fill them half full of water and keep them in my freezer.  When I feel the inflammation of shin splints setting in I unwrap the Dixie cup to expose the ice and massage it directly onto my skin for 15 minutes (vasoconstriction) then I let it rest for 30 minutes (vasodilation) and then do the massage again for 15 minutes.
Also, when I am sitting at my computer working or watching TV I place a tea towel on the ground and using my toes I scrunch the towel and pull the end of it towards me.  I do 3 or 5 sets of these whenever I can, which helps to strengthen the weak muscles in the front of my legs.

The last thing you want to do is make sure you are in a good pair of shoes.  As your shoes wear down you will notice things starting to hurt in your body: your hips, your back and your shins.  If you are an active person I suggest you buy new, good shoes at least every 6 months.  I go through shoes very quickly and usually buy a new pair every 8-10 weeks. I know that can get expensive so try for every 4 – 6 months and look for sales.  A lot of times running stores are liquidating last year’s models for very cheap and I always try and stock up when shoes are on sale.

Congrats on your 10km accomplishment and good luck with the rehab!

Attached - Reese Witherspoon playing tennis last week.

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