Prevent Shin Splints to Run Pain Free

James W. Rust
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Now that temps are starting to cool off a little in sunny Florida, you may be thinking about restarting those daily walks or jogs, or upping the intensity of your exercise. Beware! Before you make sudden changes in your routine, remember these four cautionary little words: too much too soon. Starting new activities slowly and following some basic tips can help prevent shin splints if you’ve been less active for a while.

Here are four more little words you may find useful: swim, bike, wrap, and stretch. If you have had trouble with shin splints in the past, it’s a good idea to mix up your activities a bit. Run one day, swim or bike the next, or do resistance work on alternate days. When you run, try wrapping your leg from ankle to just below the knee with a wide elastic bandage to support the muscles and ligaments of your lower legs.

Finally, stretch, stretch, stretch. Keeping your leg muscles limber will go a long way to prevent shin splints. Try this one: kneel on a padded surface, legs straight back and toes pointed, and slowly lower your bottom to your heels, pushing your ankles down until you feel a slight stretch in the front of your legs. (If you have knee problems, you won’t want to do this one.) Hold 10 seconds, rise up, and repeat.

Another way to limber up your shins is to stand, heels together, and point your toes out a bit, as in first position in ballet. Now slowly lift yourself up to your toes and down again, 10 times. Switch positions, with big toes together and heels pointed out (pigeon-toe style), and do the raises with that stance. (You might want to rest your hand lightly on a chair back for balance.)

If you do all the right things, but still end up with sore shins, rest from activity, ice the painful area, and call Atlantic Foot & Ankle Associates to set up an appointment. We can use an imaging test to make sure your pain isn’t due to something else—like a stress fracture—and design the best treatment for your condition. Use the numbers below to reach one of our five convenient locations.

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