Science

Banish Shin Splints Forever With One Magical Exercise


The sun is out, the weather’s warm, and in a month or so you’re going to be hunched over on the counch. Time to start running so you don’t put on the dreaded weight. But just as you start getting results, you also get pain. In your shins. It’s bad.

Shin splints are one of the most common running and sports injuries, and they can really knock you off your routine. Luckily, with one simple exercise, you can kill your shin splints. Here’s how to send them to hell, where they belong.

First off, what are shin splints? The medical name for them is tibial stress syndrome. They’re a result of fatigue and inflammation in the muscle tissue in the front of your leg and the posterior peroneal tendon. Pain usually occurs around the front, outer side of your tibia (shin bone). It’s generally considered to be an overuse injury, and it’s incredibly common. What most people don’t realise is just how insanely easy it is to treat.

Back when I first started fixing my knees, my physical therapist had me do some very light running on a treadmill. After just a few sessions, I started getting shin splints, and they sucked. I thought it meant I had to stop. Nope. My doc said, “I’m going to give you one exercise routine that you’re going to do once a day, and the shin splints will be gone within the week.” Sounded like bullshit to me. But, to my amazement, he was absolutely right. Here’s how you do it.

Instructions:

  • 1. Find some stairs. Actually, just one stair or a curb will do.
  • 2. Turn so you’re facing down the stairs. Scoot forward until just your heels are on the stair, with the rest of your foot hanging off (you can hold a wall or railing for balance).
  • 3. With your legs straight, point your toes downward as far as you can, then lift them up as far as you can. Repeat.
  • 4. Use a timer. Do as many as you can in 30 seconds. Flex quickly, but with full extension and flexion.
  • 5. After 30 seconds, bend your knees at a 45-degree angle (about half way). Without pausing to rest, do another 30 seconds of flexing in that position. That’s one complete set. If it burns like hell, then you’re doing it correctly.
  • 6. Rest for a minute or two, then do another set — 30 seconds with the legs straight, immediately followed by 30 seconds with the knees bent. Rest for a another minute, and repeat the two-part set.
  • 7. Each day, do three of these two-part sets. The total daily routine includes 6 30-second sessions.

That’s it. Toe raises. You think I’m crazy. That’s fine. Try it. I’ve been spreading this wisdom for the past 10 years like some kind of Johnny Shin Splint-seed and it has worked for literally everyone. I’m eager to hear the results from a larger sample size (that’s you, dear readers).

The usual disclaimer applies: everyone’s body is different, and if you feel like you’re injuring yourself, stop and see a physical therapist. You may have something else that could require calf stretching, calf raises, shin stretching or standing on tennis balls to do mid-foot stretching. Some people are told to walk around on their heels, but it seems that this would cause impact and stress on the knees. Really, I’ve never seen the toe raising exercise fail when performed properly, daily.

Have you had shin splint issues? If you’ve fixed them, how? If you haven’t yet, try this and tell us if it works.

Video: Michael Hession

Image credit: Shutterstock/ VladGavriloff and Adrian Grosu