The first signs of spring are underway here in the Valley: beautiful flowering trees and shrubs, the occasional rainy day, and the sight of more runners enjoying a morning or evening jog in the nice weather. Although more runners are getting back into their outdoor routines, the sudden exercise increase or change may place some added stress on their shin bones, causing a common overuse injury known as shin splints.
A burning or inflamed feeling in the shinbone whenever you are active is the most common symptom of shin splints. As an overuse injury, the pain will not go away on its own. Instead, it is recommended you start treating the area of pain with some ice applications, proper rest, and stretching exercises to jumpstart your recovery process.
The stretches for shin splints below are great for easing pain and can be used as a preventative exercise too.
- Wall Shin Raises - Start in a standing position with your back against a wall. Keep your back on the wall as you place your heels about a foot in front of you. Raise your toes up while keeping your heels on the ground, stretching your toes as far upward as you can. Next, lower your feet back toward the ground but keep your toes from touching. Repeat this exercise for 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
- Heel Step-Downs - Stand tall with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Take a step forward with one foot and place your heel on the ground. Use your shin muscles to keep the sole of your foot from touching down. Hold the pose for 2-3 seconds then step back into the starting position. Repeat this exercise for 10-15 reps per leg.
- Calf Stretches - Start by sitting on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Place an exercise band or hand towel around the bottom of your feet and gently pull the ends of the towel back so your feet flex backward (dorsiflexion). Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds, and repeat 2-3 times.
Don’t let shin splints keep you from getting out and exercising this spring. Make sure to perform these stretches often to reduce pain and help you heal. If your shin pain persists, let Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona help you. Request an appointment online or give us a call today at (480) 963-9000.