More likely than not, you have shin splints.
Shin splints are one of the most common injuries runners experience. It’s that nagging pain in your lower leg that can be the result of small stress fractures of the shin, extremely tight muscles or from overuse and repetitive stress. The causes of this pain can range from increasing the mileage or frequency of your runs too quickly to a weakness in your core or hips.
If you have pain in your shins when you run, your first course of action is to avoid running on hard surfaces, reduce the frequency of your runs and your weekly mileage and warm up properly. Beyond those three things, stretching and strengthening the feet, lower legs, hips and core is your next alternative.
So where do you begin? These eight stretches and exercises only take 15 minutes and will help to reduce your current pain and prevent shin splints in the future.
Toe Stretch1 of 9
Start by standing with your feet together. Crouch down onto your heels. Drop your knees towards the floor as you keep the toes tucked under. Stay with your hands on the floor if the intensity of the stretch is enough.
To deepen, walk your hands up your thighs as you stack your shoulders over your hips. Breathe and stay in this position for up to 45 seconds.
Shin Stretch2 of 9
Shake out your feet after the toe stretch. Sit on your shins with the tops of the feet flat on the floor. Bring your inner ankles and inner calves together. Place your hands on the floor behind you and begin to gently lean back. As you lean back, your knees might begin to lift depending on your flexibility.
Hold this stretch for 20 seconds and repeat two more times.
Low Lunge Ankle Stretch3 of 9
Start in a low lunge position with your right foot forward and your left knee down. Keep your right heel flat as you draw your right knee forward. Continue to draw your knee forward as far as you can to feel a stretch in your lower right calf. Stay on this side for one minute and then switch.
Calf Raises4 of 9
These calf raises can be done on a flat surface or on the edge of a curb or stair. With control, lift your heels up as high as you can and then bring them back down. Perform three sets of 25 calf raises.
Hip Raises with Heel Pull5 of 9
Start on your back with your feet flat on the ground. The heels should be about hip-distance apart and close enough that you can touch them with your middle fingers. Place your elbows by your sides. Press down through your upper arms as you lift the hips. Keep your feet firmly planted and begin to draw your heels back towards your hips. Then, release the hips down.
Perform three sets of 10 hip raises with the heel pull.
Forearm Plank6 of 9
Come into a forearm plank position with your elbows under your shoulders and your feet about hip-width apart. Keeping your forearms firmly planted on the floor, begin to aggressively draw your elbows towards your heels to create full body tension.
Hold this plank position for 45 seconds and then repeat two more times.
Single Leg Balance7 of 9
Stand with your feet beneath you. Draw your right knee into your chest, standing tall and strong on your left leg. Once you find your balance, hold until you feel the bottom of your left foot begin to fatigue.
You also have the option of extending your right leg behind you or staying on one foot and reaching down and touching your left toes before switching legs.
Pigeon8 of 9
From your hands and knees, draw your right knee towards your right wrist. Place your right shin on the floor and extend your left leg behind you. Roll towards the front of your left thigh. To deepen the stretch, drop down onto your forearms or all the way down to your forehead. Stay in this stretch for up to one minute, and then switch sides.