Hi Christine – Help! I have shin splints… what do I do now?
If you are experiencing tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner side of your shinbone you likely have shin splints. They are annoying but not to be ignored.
You pretty well know that my answer will be yoga… Except it has to be specific and include strength work as well as stretching. Your practice should include work to strengthen and stabilize your legs, ankles, hips and core in order for your body to deal with the impact of running. Working to strengthen the arches of your feet is needed, especially if you have weak or fallen arches (watch for a future post on this). In addition, 2 specific things to incorporate to help overcome, or avoid, shins splints.
Strengthen the muscles at the front of the shin (anterior tibialis).
Image above – place your hand at the front of the shin and press the shin forward while resisting with the hand. Create as much resistance as possible and you should feel the muscle beneath your hand contract.
Now create this same action when you are in your lunges (image right). Press the foot solidly into the floor and imagine that you are pressing the foot to the back leg – this should create a similar sensation as the first exercise. You will also feel more grounded and more stable as well.
Likely the calves need some stretching and for that you can’t beat downward dog (image left). To amplify the calf stretch, strongly press the top of the thighs and bottom of shins to straighten the legs. Rather than thinking of your feet coming to the floor, press them back as if you are trying to lengthen the tops and bottoms of the feet.