How Runners Get Shin Splint Treatment Wrong and 4 Ways to Get it Right

In reality, improving calf strength, abductor strength and pelvic stability are a better approach to preventing shin splints.

The calves are the largest muscle group in the lower leg (more on them in the fourth article in this series), and strengthening them will help you stabilize the tibia with each impact. Moreover, the size of your calves is directly related to the size and strength of your tibia since the tibia "grows" in response to the muscles around it.

Likewise, several studies have demonstrated a strong connection between hip abductor strength and shin splints. Specifically, studies have shown that runners with shin splints had significantly worse hip abduction strength and more motion in their torsos and hips when they landed and pushed off, compared to healthy runners.

More: Runners and Weak Hips: 5 Strengthening Exercises

Therefore, the most effective exercises for strengthening your shins and preventing shin splints are calf raises and hip abductor exercises.

Clams

Instructions: Keep the pelvis perpendicular to the floor rather than rolling backwards, which is a way to cheat during this exercise. Keeping your feet stacked one on top of the other and together, lift your knee up, then bring it back down. Work up to 20 repetitions on each leg. For additional difficulty, wrap a theraband around your knees. It is not OK to substitute this exercise for the multi hip machine at the gym.

running, injury prevention, shin splints     running, injury prevention, shin splints

More: How to Balance Running and Strength Training to Avoid Injury

Donkey Kicks

Instructions: Keep your abs tight and your back flat. Imagine placing a broomstick on your back and keeping it in place throughout the entire movement. Lift your left leg off the ground with the knee bent. Keep the movement controlled and arch your back. Perform 15 to 25 repetitions per leg.

running, injury prevention, shin splints     running, injury prevention, shin splints

Hip Thrusts

Instructions: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms at your sides. Extend the right leg straight out, and raise your pelvis off the ground. Squeeze your glutes and keep your core tight/stable as you lift your pelvis. At the top of the movement your body should be in a straight line from your knee to your head. Beginners can thrust on both legs while advanced runners can rest their foot on a medicine ball or Swiss ball for added difficulty in balance. Perform 15 to 25 repetitions on each leg.

running, injury prevention, shin splints     running, injury prevention, shin splints

More: Hip Strengthening and Mobility Exercises for Runners

Calf Raises

Instructions: Stand on a ledge, step, curb or other stable surface with your right foot; bend the left leg at the knee and keep it bent and raised throughout the movement. Slowly lift the right foot upward until you're balancing on the ball of your right foot. Slowly lower down so that your heel hangs off the surface slightly. Perform 15 to 25 repetitions before switching legs.

running, injury prevention, shin splints     running, injury prevention, shin splints

More: 5 Exercises to Strengthen Your Shins, Calves, Ankles, Achilles and Feet

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About the Author

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff Gaudette is a 2:22 marathoner and owner of RunnersConnect, a team of expert coaches dedicated to helping you run faster with the latest running and nutrition research as well as training insights from elite runners. He recently released a free eBook, 16 Weeks to a Faster Marathon. Download it now.
Jeff Gaudette is a 2:22 marathoner and owner of RunnersConnect, a team of expert coaches dedicated to helping you run faster with the latest running and nutrition research as well as training insights from elite runners. He recently released a free eBook, 16 Weeks to a Faster Marathon. Download it now.

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