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5 tips to avoid shin splints

Have you ever experienced a dull ache in the front of the lower shin during or after your workout that just doesn't seem to go away? This could be a sign of shin splints, which is an inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around your tibia. This is an overuse injury caused by repetitive movements, poor technique, faulty biomechanics, or a combination of all three. Runners, frequent walkers, dancers, and gymnasts are at a greater risk of shin splints.

I have come up with a few tips to help your shins stay pain-free!

Cross Train
Add strength training to your workout: Exercises that help strengthen and stabilize your legs, ankles, hips, and core can help prepare your legs to deal with high-impact activity. As an alternative to running, jumping or walking, opt for low-impact activities such as taking a yoga class, trying the rowing machine at your gym, or swimming a couple of laps at a local indoor pool.

Lower-body stretches are key when shin splints arise. Runners who experience pain in the shins generally have tight Achilles tendons and calves, and weaker ankle muscles. Stretching the calf, soles, and shin region is essential for relief. Here are two stretches that help target the lower leg area.

  1. Step your right foot back and place your toes or the top of your shoe on the ground.

  2. Shift your body weight slightly forward until you feel a stretch in the front of the shin.

  3. Hold the stretch for 60 seconds and switch sides.

  1. Standing with your back resting on a wall, place your heels about a foot away from the wall

  2. Using both feet, stretch your toes up while your heels remain on the ground.

  3. Lower your toes but try to keep them from touching the ground.

  4. Repeat for 30 seconds

Foam Roll
Sports massages can be costly but foam rolling can be just as effective without breaking the bank. Foam rollers can range from $5-$50 depending on the size and texture. A medium-size foam roller is best for the calf area.

Foam rolling can assist in breaking up muscle knots and also restore normal blood flow and function.

Always remember to start off slowly and gently when incorporating foam rolling into your exercise routine.

Grab your foam roller and start going over the calf, shin, and bottom of your foot with slow controlled rolling for 30 to 60 seconds. This helps to mobilize the muscles and joints. It will not only prevent shin splints but will speed up the recovery process. As the tissue starts to loosen up, you will be able to use more pressure.

One of the best recovery methods is to rest your body! This helps control the inflammation and prevents further damage from increasing.

Robyn provides in-home customized personal training, corrective exercise programs, and nutrition counseling services in the Center City Philadelphia area. She specializes in corrective exercise for improved movement, muscular imbalances, and injury prevention, as well as weight loss/gain, body sculpting, overall strength conditioning, and lifestyle improvement.  For more information, questions or comments please visit

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