Q: I get killer shin splints. How can I prevent them? Are there exercises I can do?
Shin splints, or pain along the shinbone, are a common problem for people who are just starting to exercise. They’re usually the result of weak tibialis muscles (muscles that run along the front of the shin). Your best bet for healing shin splints is management. You need to mitigate the injury while waiting for the muscles to grow stronger. The best ways to do this are as follows:
- Make sure you have proper shoes. Good shock absorption will help.
- Stretch your calves after your warm-up but before your workout. Often, tight calves create a muscular imbalance in your lower leg that can lead to shin splints. The key is to make the tibialis stronger and the calf muscles more flexible.
- Ice your shins after a workout to keep the inflammation down. Do this for a minimum of 20 minutes.
With care, shin splits should be completely gone within three weeks. Don’t stop exercising no matter what you do, but on days when your shins are killing you, avoid running and hill walking.