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


Comments

    This whole article is bullshit. Learn to run correctly.
    Run on the balls of your feet. Dont heel strike.
    Then, magically, all your knee problems and shit splints caused by running incorrectly will be gone!

      I agree with warcroft. I used to get shin splints when I first started on the treadmill. Then I listened to my body and learned to warm up and strech my legs properly…now I don't get them any more and my running and stamina has increased dramatically.

      Hey Gizmodo, any chance you can find a cure for selfrighteous wankers now?

      Yeah, that's it, all shin and knee problems are caused by incorrect running style. Anyone that runs without heel strike can't possibly have any issues huh warcrock?

      Warcroft, what you're saying isn't true. Shin splints and knee issues are not all caused by running incorrectly, mine are caused by inwards turned femurs resulting in bad hips, knees, feet and shin splints. You were obviously looking for the answer to an issue if you were directed to this article.

      That's not true. Running on the balls of my feet have made it worse. It may not work but people don't just get shin splints from running incorrectly.

    If this actually works I kiss Brent full on the mouth. Had these when I was in the Army and F%$ck#@g hated them. The only cure besides surgery then was walk through them. As for Warcrofts comment, I don't care how frigging good a runner you are, if you have ever had Shin Splints it can ruin your day and make you feel like shit because you can't compete while you have em. Besides that very few people actually run on the balls of there feet because modern running shoes aren't designed for it.

    @warcroft, yes that is the ideal solution but not necessarily the easiest.
    If this works it will help me play every game this season. Usually I resort to Deep Heat and ice paks after every training session and every game to reduce the swelling. I have even begun massaging the swelling to try and help it get better. Unfortunately every footy season it comes back.

    warcroft I used to get murderous shin splints when I did track and field running in spikes (no heel strikes).
    My physio at the time gave me several exercises to do including toe raises.

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

    I have a similar problem, except mine is just from walking on ground that isn't perfectly flat, and it's my ankles that start hurting, not the shins. Will this fix that too?

      Yes, and it also cures insomnia, itchy scalp, excessive flatulence...

        I have itchy scalp but i'll pass. I like everyone to smell my brand.

    So how many people came here just for the photo?

      I did!..

    I have suffered from shin splints for years. I did toe raises and related exercises - no luck. It was changing my gait to a forefoot strike that solved it for me.

    yeah thats it... run on the front of your foot(ball or toes)... save your knees?

    and destroy your Achilles tendons... please everyone, do not take any health advice from any comments on here... if you an issue with shin splints, see a physio.

    "The usual disclaimer applies: everyone’s body is different, and if you feel like you’re injuring yourself, stop and see a physical therapist." - I read 'the rapist' every time I see the word the rapist.

    Definately going to try this. Have suffered from shin splits for years now, and just figured it was due to my growth (I'm quite tall) or something. Didn't realise it was as simple as stretching a muscle out!

    I actually don't run at all, but roller skate and got shin splints at the beginning of my last training session. I will be doing this exercise religiously from now on in the hope it prevents it from occurring again. I believe my problem is stiff high arches, so I can definitely see the benefit in stretching them out daily. Thank you!

      I also roller skate .. I don't run apart from a little off skate stuff .. I went to a bootcamp recently and did some intensive footwork drills .. I basically pushed my body too far .. I have dropped arches .. @warcroft .. that was a very narrow minded comment .. and most certainly nothing to do with balls of my feet .. thank you very much for this information Gizmodo .. I will certainly be putting it to use .. I haven't been able to skate for 2 weeks without extreme pain .. cheers

    I am full mast right now because of the nature of this photo...er .... article.

    An overuse injury? Hah. Well, that is one way of looking at it...

    Although everyone would be much better off if they just realized that it's caused by muscular weakness. Which is proven by the fact that exercise (strengthening the muscle) will remove the pain.

    Got shin splints? No, you haven't overused your legs. No, you're not running incorrectly. No, you haven't just done some hardcore workout. You're just weak.

      Not true mate. I've got a friend who's incredibly ripped, cross country champion at various lengths and he still gets them. He's miles away from 'weak.'

    I'm a sprinter (which requires strong calf muscles) and I have bad shin splints. To say it is caused by weakness would be quite a lie.

    Just rebuilding my fitness levels after getting postviral fatigue, and guess what? Shin splints! Definitely going to try this as their driving me mad not being able to exercise to my full potential. My friends are finding it hilarious, because I jus can't get a break this year. Well, I'm their competition and I'm out! My trainig partner and I are getting so frustrated!!! I hope this works…

    Ive been doing these exercise for around a week now and i have notice a difference when I play sport my shins arent as sore
    Anyone one with shin splints should try this :-)

    Thank you for sharing this simple exercise...costs nothing but a bit of practising, so well worth a go. If it doesn't work, nothing lost & if it does, yay! :)

    Although running with balls of your feet is recommended, it doesn't work for everyone. I tried minimalist shoes, but since I underpronate the impact was still too much for my shin splints. Here's some actual treatments that might work depending on the person. http://www.shinsplintsclinic.com/shin-splints-treatment/

    Ive had my gate analyzed, and I dont heel strike, certainly in sprints; and been affected by them my whole life. As a pro athlete and now as an older one. To many physiologic components to just say its from heel striking and thats that. I found this read interesting. Thank you and I found it does help, they arent gone but better

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