Shin Splints Prevention
“Imagine having to blow up your car engine to know if you should add oil, or a solider having to wait for his weapon to jam in the middle of a fire fight before he knows if he should perform some preventative maintenance. That would be ridiculous, right?” – Kelly Starrett, Becoming a Supple Leopard
Although this may sound ridiculous, we are all guilty of taking this approach in the gym. Lately, in our workouts, we have been running more than usual. This has caused some to have problems with shin splints. In this blog, I address the major causes of shin splints, and things we can do to help reduce the chances of getting them.
Ankle Range of Motion
The first thing we can do in preventative maintenance to reduce our chance of shin splints is examine ankle range of motion (ROM). This can be done simply by standing with your feet together and squatting. If you are unable to get into the bottom of a squat with your back straight and your heels in contact with the ground, then you lack ankle range of motion. Lack of ankle ROM tells us that we have some tissues/capsules that are stiff. These include the anterior and posterior tibalis, ankle capsule, calves and heel cords. Below are some foam rolling and stretching exercises that will help increase ankle ROM.
Anterior Tibialis – Foam Roll
Calves & Posterior Tibialis – Foam Roll
Heel Cord Mobilization
Ankle Capsule Mobilization
Posterior Tibialis – Foam Roll
Calf Stretch (with & without knee bent)
Anterior Tibialis – Stretch
Another cause of shin splints is the heel striking while running. Although this is natural when we walk, it is not advantageous while running. Doing so causes increased force on the anterior tibialis, as well as additional stress on the tibia itself. Proper running form is accomplished whenever you strike with your forefoot and your heel kisses the ground as you transition to the next foot strike.
Our final examined cause of shin splints is running with your feet turned out. In the same way heel striking increases force loads through your ankle, so does running with your feet turned out.However, instead of your anterior tibialis being over stressed, running with your feet tuned out puts additional stress on your posterior tibialis.
If you have been subject to shin splints, examine your technique to pinpoint the cause so you can avoid them in the future. If you have difficulty determining what you are doing wrong, video yourself through several running strides to assess your problematic areas. Happy running.
Stanley Soles, C.S.C.S, CES