Crap – Shin Splints Again!
Shin splints are basically an inflammation of the muscles, ligaments, tendons and/or connective tissue in the front of your calf (lower leg). This is an overuse injury. It is fairly common and easy to stress these muscles as they are typically weak in the average person.
Shin splints are a common problem in derby, especially for newbies. If you are “coming off the couch” so to speak, practicing two or three times a week is a little like overtraining (increasing your workout – time, distance, weight, etc. more than 10%). This can cause shin splints. Also, poor mechanics and poor footwear can cause shin splints. I hate to tell you this, but you may have bought a boot that is just not right for your foot. Pay close attention to the directions on skating form, as this will help reduce the stress you are putting on your shins. Exercising on a hard surface (can you say concrete?) can also cause shin splints.
Are you running outside of derby practice? Running downhill, doing too much too soon, (increasing your time or distance by more than 10% at a time), poor running mechanics, bad footwear, overtraining, etc., will also cause shin splints.
Okay, so you have a shin splint – what is the recommended treatment?
– Ice (3 – 5x/day, 15-20 min each)
If your shin splints are really bad, you need to give yourself some time to heal. Pushing through the pain is not a good idea and will not help you heal – you will just continue to get shin splints!
If pain lasts for more than a week and you have done RICE, seek medical attention to rule out stress fractures, etc.
So how do I protect myself from getting shin splints?
- Proper boot fit.
- Try orthotics, arch supports, gel inserts, etc.
- Improve or maintain ankle mobility – this is really important for derby!
- Strengthen the front of your calf – with your feet flat on the floor (you can be sitting in a chair) lift your toe to your shin until it burns!! 3x/week, alternating days.
- Stretch the back of your calf – put your left toe against the wall and try to put the same knee against the wall, you should feel this in the back of your left calf. Your left knee should be bent, this stretches the soleus muscle. Now put your left foot back with your left leg straight, and keep your right leg in front of you in a lunge position and lean forward at the left ankle, and feel the stretch in the back of your left leg, keeping your left leg straight. This stretches the gastrocnemius muscle. Repeat both stretches on your right leg.
- Strengthen the back of your calf – Do calf raises with your heel off a step slowly.
- Cross train!! Swim, run, walk or do aerobics or kickboxing in the pool.
- Use good derby mechanics.
- Strengthen your core (plank holds, balance work, single leg work, etc.). This helps keep your weight back on your heels and off your toes.
- Foam roll your calves, front and back. You can use trigger balls as well on trouble spots and to loosen the connective tissue.