Shin splints are one running injury that can stop you in your tracks. Not only do they disrupt your training, shin splits hurt too. Weak muscles in the front of the shin coupled with tight calves can lead to this problem, so it's time to strengthen and stretch this area whether you're training for your first 5K or your first marathon.
Here are a two exercises and one stretch to do at the end of your runs to balance out the strength of your lower legs.
Toe and Heel WalksWalking on your toes and heels with your legs in different positions works all the muscles in your lower legs. The motion of turning the feet in and out comes from rotation in your hip joint, not the ankle.
Directions: Walk for 20 to 30 feet in each of these four positions.
- Walk on your toes with feet turned out (like a ballerina)
- Walk on your heels with feet turned out (like a duck with heels together, toes out)
- Walk on your heels with legs turned in (toes in, heels out)
- Walk on your toes with legs turned in (pigeon toed, on your toes)
This move will strengthen the lower legs and adds a dynamic element that will challenge your balance.
- Lift your heels to rise onto your toes, and then rock back onto your heels lifting your toes.
- Repeat rocking forward and back, holding onto something to help keep your balance if needed. Do 20 reps.
Keep your calves long and loose with this simple stretch, which you can repeat throughout the day to ensure your calves stay flexible.
- Step your right foot back about two feet, bending your left knee.
- Press your heel into the ground to increase the stretch.