What are shin splints? This term refers to the pain felt in the front of the lower leg. Shin splints can be caused by many things, including tendonitis, muscle strain or a stress fracture. Pain can become worse when doing high impact activities like running on a hard surface, jumping or prolonged standing.
How do we help prevent them? Making sure to balance the muscles of the calf, bottom of the foot, and the shin can keep this condition under control. Also, correct posture and stride length can make a great deal of difference.
How do we relieve pain from shin splints? STRETCH! Stretching the calf muscles (gastrocnemius,and soleus) can help relieve the pain causing tightness. Tension in this muscle group pulls the foot and ankle toward the ground placing increased stress on the front shin muscles. As the shin muscles are forced to contract repetitively against this tension, they fatigue and strain creating pain and inflammation that increase as the activity is continues.
Sit on the end of a bench with your leg extended (calf supported). Do the "alphabet" with your foot... Moving in your ankle, not your toes. Try to be as distinctive as possible in the formation of your letters. This will not only stretch but strengthen the stabilizer and shin muscles!
Rolling a tennis into the bottom of the feet will also decrease the amount of stress placed on the front of the shin. The Achilles tendon comes off the calf into the heel and then wraps around to become the tissue found in the bottom of the foot. Ensuring health and mobility in these tissues will further relax the calf muscles taking more pressure off the front of the shin. Releasing the front of the shin will allow blood flow to increase in the area bringing nutrition to the cells which will allow for improved healing.