Every day you spend at the gym, you're asking your shins to take on about six times your regular weight. Even commonplace exercises like running and walking can be enough to place some serious strain on the tissues surrounding the bone, creating inflammation in necessary muscles. The more you work towards a healthier body, the more your calves pull on weaker shin muscles, leading to pain, and sometimes significant injury. It's no wonder that athletes are searching for ways to prevent shin splints.
Shin splints are particularly common in people who walk too much, run too fast, or workout at an incline (uphill), because these activities cause the foot to flex more, causing extra work for the shin muscles. If you need a quick way to prevent shin splints, the following tips might be able to offer some relief.
1. Be Careful
It may seem obvious, but sometimes your parent's advice bears repeating: be careful when you're working out. If you want to prevent shin splints and upgrade your exercise routine, then make sure you increase one aspect of your regimen at a time - either frequency, duration, or speed. Don't try to challenge yourself to do too much at once, or you'll be asking for injury.
There's a reason why calf compression sleeves are so popular amongst runners and hikers. These devices help to give extra strength and support to the muscles that need it most, reducing your chances of strain-induced injury. Try them out for a week and see how you feel; the chances are you'll never go back to compression-less running again.
3. Loosen Up
If your calf muscles are too tight, you're bound to experience some discomfort, and you'll also be placing undue stress on your shins. Limber up with some exercises before a run to help soften tense muscles. Start with one foot on the first step of a staircase, while the other is straight behind you. Bend the knee of the leg situated on the step, and let your other heel drop until you feel a stretch in your calf. Relax, and repeat with the other leg.
4. Move Your Hips
If you want to prevent shin splints, then you're going to have to learn to let other parts of your body take on some of the extra weight. Strengthening your hips and working on flexibility can stop you from rolling your feet inwards as you run - a problem that frequently leads to shin pain. One good exercise for this starts with you lying on your left side, left arm supporting your head and right arm flat in front of you for balance. Lift your left knee so that it's bent on the floor, then raise your right leg, keeping it straight and toes pointed. Reverse your position and start again with the other leg.
5. Get a Massage
Finally, efforts to prevent shin splints don't have to be hard work. A regular deep-tissue massage can be enough to keep the muscles in your lower legs loose - reducing the risk of injury. Track down a local massage therapist and watch what she does to pamper your leg muscles. You might even learn how to give yourself a few free rub-downs in between sessions.