Those who love exercising on the open road don’t typically want to be stuck indoors engaging in strength training. However, running, especially for newer runners, may create muscle imbalances or exacerbate issues in our legs.
The shin bone helps absorb and balance the impact of footfall. Similar to a bridge beam, the tibia bends backward on impact with the ground, putting compressive pressure on the medial side of the bone. Weakened calves, for instance, can put a lot of stress on the Achilles Heel and break down the tendon’s fibers.
Thus, unstable core and hip muscles hurt our body’s biomechanics and overload the shins with tension, which may often lead to shin splints and stress fractures. To avoid these pains, incorporating specific exercises twice a week — or even daily if you have had shin, calf, or Achilles issues in the past — can help preserve endurance and running performance.
Plyometric lunges help improve mobility and stability. Lunges are ideal for those wishing to get stronger and for current athletes, including runners and cyclists and help the shins and other areas of the body like the hips.
First, lunge forward with the right foot and left arm until the shin of your back leg is parallel to the ground and the knee nearly touches the floor. Push off the ground in a quick manner. Next, switch the legs in midair, so they land in a lunge with the left leg moving forward. Left and right lunges count as one repetition. Complete three sets of 15 reps.
Straight-leg Calf Raise
The typical remedy for shin splits is standing calf raises — and many of them in succession. First, grab a dumbbell in the right hand while standing on a step. Cross the left foot behind your right ankle and then balance on the ball of the right foot. Lift the right heel and stop for a few seconds; then lower. Repeat 15 times in three sets on each side.
Bent-Knee Calf Raise
This exercise is similar to the straight-leg calf raise instructions, but instead, bend the knee to balance the leg and keep it bent when raising and lowering the body. Complete three sets of 15 reps on both sides.
Anterior Tibialis Exercises
First, sit on the floor or on a chair. Tighten an exercise band around something sturdy and loop it around the top of the foot. As the toes face up, flex the ankle toward the body to the count of two. Return the ankle to a downward position to the count of four. Do this 10 to 20 times in 2 or 3 sets every day.
Eccentric Calf Raises
Stand up on a step with the heels hanging off the edge. Push up onto the toes. Next, drop your heels to the count of 10 below the step level. Make sure to do this movement very slowly. Complete three sets of 15 repetitions.
Farmer’s Walk on Toes
Hold dumbbells at the sides. Rise up onto the toes and walk forward for a full minute. Increase the weight if it feels like it’s possible to withstand more than 60 seconds. Repeat in three sets.
Shin splint pain is intense and can keep runners away from practicing. However, it’s important to always take measures to prevent the issue. Once shin splints occur, rest, ice, stretching, and even better shoes combined with these low-impact exercises can help the shins heal. While more studies are necessary to determine the exercises that are the most effective, these exercises will help give runners the support they need as they heal and get stronger.