By Pete. Preparing or heading to your trekking adventure holiday soon? Peter from D-Peter Health & Fitness Clinic in Dublin continues with his Walking Preparation Programme. This month he focuses on how to avoid shin splints.
What are Shin Splints?
‘Shin Splints’ refers to pain along your shin bone, as the result of repetitive stress to the large bone and muscle along the front of your lower leg. This is a common problem for a lot of runners, dancers, hikers etc… The muscle, bone and tendon gradually become overworked by the increased activity (ie. walking, running, dancing). You might feel a tight aching pain that fades after a warm up or after you stop working out and it can feel painful and tender to the touch. Mild swelling and tenderness along the inside of the lower leg is also common.
Intensifying or changing your training routine
Having over-pronated feet (flat feet) or having high arches (the use of orthotics may be helpful)
Running on unfamiliar terrain
Wearing worn-out boots
Increasing mileage too quickly
Most cases of shin splints can be treated with rest, ice and other self-care measures. Wearing proper footwear and modifying your exercise routine can help prevent shin splints from recurring.
What to do:
During your walk, if you experience a few twinges along your shin bone, rest straight away. Stretch the muscle for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Unfortunately, you might not have access to ice during your route, which is a great help. However, you can use Bio-freeze or Voltrol or any other over the counter pain medication. Even better, if there is a lake or river close by, place your lower leg into the water and leave it cool for 10-15 minutes. Do this as often as you can during your walk when at all possible.
If you find that the pain continues throughout and after the hike and has spread along a greater surface area of your leg, this could indicate a stress fracture (a fracture of a bone caused by repeated -rather than sudden- mechanical stress). If this is the case, seek medical assistance straight away.
The easiest and best way to avoid shin splints is to increase mileage gradually before and during your walk. Walk on soft surfaces when possible and make sure your shoes are a comfortable fit.
This is an important tip! No need to serge on! Enjoy your European adventure experience, enjoy the views and appreciate each moment!
A simple shin stretch exercise:
1. Roll up a towel/ jacket and place it on the ground as seen on the picture
2. Kneel on the floor placing the front of both feet on top of the towel
3. Slowly begin to sit back towards your heels until a stretch can be felt along the front of your lower leg (DO NOT sit on your heels straight away)
4. Once you feel a stretch hold it for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times – do this a several times throughout the day if needed.
5. NO PAIN should be felt with any exercise prescribed. However, a slight stretchy discomfort is allowed if stretch is carried out during the time the leg is aggravated.
6. Consult your practitioner for further evaluation if you experience pain or any other unfamiliar sensations.
You might also like to read D-Pete’s:
Or you can get in touch with D-Pete Health and Fitness Clinic for additional fitness advice ahead of your trekking Trip.