Using Stretches to Avoid Shin Splints
Rather than asking how to get rid of shin splints wouldn’t it be better if you could just avoid ever having them!
Many strenuous physical activities which require running or other forms of level-ground locomotion require warm-up exercises so that the muscles are prepared for optimal contraction. Sports such as basketball and football involve abrupt changes in speed and direction of movement, causing medial tibial stress syndrome or shin splints. This is a result of excessive workload of the calf muscles which are responsible for the downward flexion of the ankle joint, especially when the muscles are not warmed-up prior to the activity.
There are three exercises in the form of stretches to avoid shin splints, namely calf stretches, toe circles and side leg lean.
1. Using Calf Stretches
One of the stretches to avoid shin splints is the calf stretch. The basic principle of a calf stretch is that when the calf muscles (gastrocnemius, soleus, plantaris and tibialis posterior) are elongated prior to an activity, it will be able to withstand the shear forces during physical activity, thus preventing the tension that it causes to the anterior part of the shin bone, or tibia, it is this tension what causes shin splints.
The objective of the exercise then is to slowly induce eccentric (or lengthening) contraction of the calf muscles.
From a supported plantar-flexed position, a person shall take out the heel support and slowly lower himself or herself to the ground, so that the feet will come in contact with the surface. The slow movement will prevent the person from relying on the gravitational pull, thus facilitating the eccentric contraction of the calf muscles.
2. Using “Toe Circles”
Second of the stretches are “toe circles”. The term “toe circles”, is a little misleading as they do not really focus on the movement of the toes, but the ankle or subtalar joint.
The exercise is a combination of four movements; Dorsiflexion and plantarflexion on the sagittal plane and inversion and eversion on the coronal plane. The resultant motion of the combined movements appears to be rotation at the ankle joint.
The exercise actually loosens up multiple muscles on the anterior, posterior and lateral compartments of the lower leg, one after the other as the foot assumes the position opposite the pull of the muscles. Tension is decreased, especially in the posterior leg muscles.
3. The Side Leg Lean
The last of the stretches is called the side leg lean, which is performed by placing one’s leg an inch or two behind the other leg, and then moving the trunk of the body in the opposite direction. Tension will be felt on the inferior part of the leg near the shin, as a part of the muscle’s property to keep taut and counteract the reverse force which will try to pull the body downward. The pull will usually tell a person if he or she is doing the exercise correctly.
It must always be remembered that these exercises, or rather stretches, work differently for each person, and it is better to consult a doctor or physiotherapist before making it part of your routine.
Also, these stretches are only meant to prepare your lower leg muscles for weight-bearing and loading, but do not, and will not, solely prevent the condition of shin splints from occurring, as other factors may still contribute to the development of medial tibial stress syndrome. Always remember that the best stretches for shin splints will always vary from one person to another.
However, I must mention that although these stretches may lessen the occurrence of shin splints they will never eliminate them completely, so if you would like to know more about how to get rid of shin splints completely then simply CLICK HERE for info on a proven treatment plan.
Have a great shin splints free day!