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Is it possible that I’ve found a cure for shin splints?

Only time will tell, but I’ve found a fix that have worked for several people. I’ve only been using it for a week, but I haven’t had any shin pain since. For those of you who don’t personally know me: I’m not a doctor.

If you have them, the first thing you need to do is stop running. I know it sucks. I also know that you I never want to run nearly as bad as when I’m not supposed to be running. You know the whole want-what-you-can’t-have thing. That’s me in a nutshell.

A few sources say that running a little bit every day can soothe your shin splints, but I really can’t say that running while injured has ever done me an ounce of good. Believe me, I’ve pushed myself to the limits–thinking that I could just extend my limits (and one day be limitless har har har), but that only caused more injury.  READ: sidelined for four months.

If you can’t walk without pain, do not run at all. Do RICE: rest, ice, compression, elevation.

I’m mainly talking to the people who are beginning to feel pain in their calves/shins or have reached a mild form of shin splints. I’m also not a doctor so don’t take my word as end-all-be-all. After all, would you take the words of a stranger as gospel? I hope not.

Here are a few things I do and explanations as to why:

WHEN YOU WAKE UP AND/OR GO TO BED:

  • Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you. Bring your toes in toward your body (not with your hands) as far as you can. Basically, you’re dorsiflexing as far as you can. Hold this stretch for five minutes. You’ll start to feel your shins hurt early on, but it’ll get intense at around 2.5 minutes. Be sure to hold it anyway. Hold it until 5 minutes is through. If your toes (not your shins!) start to feel cramped, try to wiggle them. The feeling won’t stay forever, so try to rough it out if you can. Your shins will thank you for it. I do this one in bed when I wake up and before I go to bed. I know, it says do it once a day, but I try to do it twice.

The reason behind this stretch (according to the video) is your calves are extremely strong when compared to the weak muscles surrounding your shin. Do I know if this is entirely true? No idea, don’t care—it works for me. Ever since I started doing this, my shin pain has diminished (but I guess the following few pointers could be the culprits, as well. You decide)

PRE-RUN

  • Warm your shins with a warm pack. Keep the packs on for about 5 – 10 minutes. After your shins are warm (or if you’re impatient like me, do it while you warm them), place an elastic exercise band around the ball of your left foot. Pull both ends as hard as you can toward you (it’ll pull your foot toward you), and then push (using your ankle and ball of foot) out (plantarflex) as far as you can. Do this 30-40 times on both legs.

This is done to warm you up for running. You don’t want to do long static exercises, because they’ll do more damage than good (so say most websites and my sports doctor).

POST-RUN

  • Use the edge of a step or a curb to stand on your tippy-toes and then push down past the step until you feel a stretch. You don’t want to feel any pain, but you want to feel that you are stretching.

This is your basic wall stretch, but I never feel a stretch with those.

  • Redo the elastic band stretch again. 30-40 times on each foot.
  • This one is my absolute favorite: when you’re finished with all of the above, grab some lotion/Vaseline. Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you. Feel where your tibia is. Do NOT rub or press on that. Instead, on the outer edger of the tibia is connective tissue. Take a small amount or Vaseline or lotion (equivalent to the size of a dime) and use two fingers to dab it in one straight line next to the tibia (only on the outside, though). Then, take the other foot (the one without lotion) and use your heel to lightly press down on the outside of your tibia. Start just below the knee and extend until near the ankle. Repeat this with each time increasing your pressure. Eventually, you might feel discomfort. If so, first, make sure that you aren’t pressing on the bone. If you’re not, continue and hold the pressure at any painful point. So, if ¾ of the way down your leg, you feel pain, hold the pressure with your heel right there. Don’t press harder, but hold your pressure. Sometimes concentrated pressure can get rid of a kink.

The reason behind this massage is for two things. One is to break up that connective tissue from being too tense and relax it. You will feel your shin splints literally disappear after doing this. Before I begin my massage, I always take the calf of one of my legs and place it on top of my knee. I’ll gently press down to determine how bad my shins hurt. If it’s intense, I’ll massage for about 15-20 minutes. If it isn’t that bad (lately), I’ll do about 10-15. The second reasoning for the massage is to lymph drain/release. There’s excess fluid in there that’s causing inflammation and pain. You could also take an ibuprofen, but you’re a badass, and you’d rather handle it yourself.

  • After ALL of these are done, the final step is icing. I put ice on my shins (in the form of frozen food) while I’m eating dinner. So that means I keep the ice on my shins for roughly 8-10 minutes. I try to stretch my eating out, but most times I eat like a starved beast so my legs get less ice than they probably need.

In all seriousness, do not do any of this if your shins are extremely pained, are bruised, swollen, or you have stress fractures. You will know (deep down) whether these are okay for you if the pain you feel from doing them is about a 1 or 2 on a scale of one to ten. The only one that should have any pain (aside from the first one—which is a BAMF) is the massage after you’ve applied more pressure.

Other than that, don’t do anything if it hurts and wait until you’re better. Also, see a doctor to be sure you don’t have stress fractures or…compartment syndrome.

As for now, I’m still running on grass and dirt. I’ll let you know when/if/how I get back into running on pavement again (siiiigh hopefully soon. Please, calves).

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