Ask the Coach



I’ve been told by my doctor that I have shin splints, what can I do to get back to my physical activity faster?

Shin splints are quite common and about 3 million people get them per year. The front of the leg between the knee and the ankle is very painful. This usually develops from repeated impact from running, jumping or walking on a hard surface, changes in intensity or any repetitive movement stressing the shins. It can occur from increasing your distance or time of a plyometric activity. Failing to have a proper warm up or cool down can also contribute to the development of shin splints. This can also occur from biomechanical irregularities in your feet: flat feet, improper footwear or differences in leg length. Hips, ankles or a weak core could contribute to medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). It can last days to weeks and may often be self-treated or subsides on its own. If it persists, you should be evaluated by a physician.

Treatment would begin with icing the area for 20 minutes several times per day and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. Begin stretching and rehab activities, while reducing activities that irritate the condition. Massaging the area will increase circulation and aid healing. Use physio-tape or bandage the area during activity and ice immediately after. Although, rest from activities that increase inflammation are highly encouraged. Evaluate footwear and consider if over-the-counter or custom orthotics are needed. Integrate cross-training techniques or exercises from your rehab plan into your fitness program, to avoid future episodes with this very painful condition. If left untreated, this condition may become chronic and takes much longer to subside.

What is a proper warm up before walking?

Warm up, stretch, walk, cool down and then stretch again. Any activity that warms up the body, its musculature, joints and increases blood flow can be considered a warm up activity. Warm up for 3-5 minutes or more. In colder conditions, you may want to increase your warm up time. Walking in place is easy and effective. Ankle swings, leg swings, figure eight leg swings, arm circles, pelvic loops, twists and many other moves are appropriate for a good warm up. Focus on stretching calves and leg muscles. Start walking at a gentle pace for at least 3 minutes before increasing. Enjoy your walk and cool down for 3-5 minutes. Stretch again at the end of your walk too!

Walking is the easiest activity and all you need is a good pair of shoes. Even though it is heating up, try to go early or late in the day. Choose areas with trees, for some shade, and remember to stay hydrated. Bring your phone in case of an emergency. Remember most mall distances are published, and you can walk inside in air conditioning. For those of you on treadmills, swinging your arms burns a lot more calories.

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