By Yael Grauer |
Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome, is a painful inflammatory condition marked by nagging pain across the tibia — the large bone in the front of the lower leg (a.k.a. the shinbone).
The pain is caused by overuse or injury to the fibers that connect the soleus (one of the calf muscles) to the tibia, explains Francesca Conte, PhD, a pro ultramarathoner, running coach, race director, and co-owner of Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports in Charlottesville, Va.
Although many people experience shin splints after running, the running itself might not be the cause. Rather, heavy heel-striking, downhill striding, poor form, or ramping up your workouts too quickly — going from couch to 5K in one day, for instance — can all be factors.
To help stave off shin splints, Conte recommends doing the following exercises three times a week to stretch and strengthen the lower-leg muscles.
- Perform one to three sets of 10 reps, resting one minute between sets.
- Continue with one minute on, one minute off for as long as you comfortably can, for up to 30 minutes.
- Repeat three times per leg, alternating sides and resting as needed. Work up to holding each rep for 30 seconds.