Getting back into exercise is hard, especially when you just want to push yourself to get fit fast.
Although, pushing too hard too fast can have a variety of negative effects on the body. One of the most commonly experienced is known as shin splints. These are characterised by pain on the inside of the lower leg, along the tibia (or shin bone). They can get quite severe and very debilitating. Shin splints are most often caused by running on hard surfaces for long periods of time when your body is not quite used to it, resulting in over-use of the lower leg muscles – particularly the soleus and tibialis anterior muscles. They become very tight and can begin to pull away from the bone, causing inflammation and painful bumps down the side of the shin. Reducing the symptoms of shin splints is easy but it does require patience. Make sure that you stretch well before going for a run, wear appropriate shock-absorbing foot wear, run on grass instead of concrete and work your fitness up gradually!
If you begin to feel a sharp pain occur on the inside of your shin, stop to stretch, change surfaces and try to slow down the pace. Apply an ice pack to the painful area for 20-minute intervals for 1-3 days (ensure you don’t apply ice directly to the area – cover with a towel) and stretch or foam roll your calf muscles after exercising.
Some commonly used stretches for people avoiding and treating shin splints are as below:
Hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds before resting and repeating 3 times to each side. Don’t push to far into the stretch, only until you feel a gentle stretch in the painful area and hold this position.
If you are experiencing painful shin splints, the best thing to do is rest from running for a while. Keep stretching and applying ice to the painful area. There are many other ways to keep up your fitness levels without running which are much easier on the area while it is healing. Try swimming, bike riding or rowing just to name a few! Be patient with your body, shin splints can often take a while to heal and can lead to stress fractures if not careful.
For fitness and exercise goals, build yourself up slowly and provide plenty of time for your body to rest. Help is always available for those who are unsure how to go about starting their fitness goals or even those who would like to know the correct stretches to do to prevent or manage the condition. Please make sure to contact the team at Absolute Balance with any questions or concerns.
Emily Tann | B.Sc. – Exercise, Sports and Rehabilitation | Grad. Dip in Clinical Exercise Physiology |
Exercise Consultant/ Exercise Physiologist (ESSAM)
P: 9244 5580
Thacker, S.B., Gilchrist, J., Stroup, D. F., Kimsey, C. D (2002). The prevention of shin splints in sports: a systematic review of literature. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 34(1) pp 32-40