T Nation

advice please!

T-Folk,

A bit of history first, I play soccer on an amateur/semi professional level here in Aus. and over the last two seasons have had continual problems with ‘shin splints’ in this case affecting tibialis anterior according to my physio. I have quite short achilles tendons (which my physio explains may be one of several causing factors) and to date, my treatment (as such) has been improving my general flexibility placing emphasis on my calves, achilles etc, and then dealing with any symptoms of the shin splints as they appear.

My question is will increasing my calf strength be beneficial (im assuming it will) and how will i achieve this given that any weighted movement which places force on my lower limbs seems to really flare up pain symptoms (eg calf raise, squats, most o lifting)

Folks also can anyone suggest anything further i can do to alleviate this condition in terms of treatment modalities, supplements, specific training methods etc - this would really be appreciated as i feel as if i am stuck in a rut in terms of development - i have to limit how much i train and have to avoid what i consider ‘core’ pre season exercises like o movements, squats etc… thanks in advance!

I use to play soccer. And use to also deal with shin splits. And I also use to assume the same as you: thinking that increasing calf strength would eliminate shin splints.

However, strong calves is one reason for shin splints. Another is tightness in that area (posterior). What's happening is the muscles in front are overworking to correct this strength imbalance. Hence, shin splints.

For immediate relief: ice the area. In the meantime, avoid hard running surfaces. When the pain subsides, I would begin stretching the shin area. Try this: Kneel on a carpeted floor, legs and feet together and toes pointed directly back. Then slowly sit back onto your calves and heels, pushing your ankles into the floor until you feel tension in the muscles of your shin. Hold for 10 to 12 seconds, relax and repeat. Also, start to stretch your calves. As I had previously mentioned, tightnes in the calf area can also cause shin splints.

I had extremly bad shin splints a few years ago when I played basketball. There really is no magic cure for them, the best advice I can give you is to strech your achilles heal and calf as much as you can and get a good pair of shoes. When playing soccer maybe buy a “shoe cussion” to put inside your boots. Advil before and after running.

How are your arches? I have cronic plantar-faciitis (swelling of the tendons on the bottom of the foot) and my arches were beginning to fall. All of this foot pain was causing shin splints. I spent a bunch of money on good orthotics and the shin splints are almost completely gone.

Another stretch to try is putting a towel around your foot and holding both ends in your hands. Then point and flex your foot with as much resistance as necessary to really work / stretch the bottom of your foot.

A friend of mine used to struggle with shin splints. Someone suggested she use a ‘dorsiflexor,’ and this small device helped her immensely. It consists of two rods in the shape of a cross, with weights on the bottom. The exercise itself is just flexing the feet up with the added resistance with the effect of strengthening the shins. The only company I have ever seen to make one of these is Power Systems (www.power-systems.org)

Work the tibialis. Tap your feet when you’re sitting down.

thanks for the advice everyone. I just contacted a podiatrist to get orthotics made and have an appointment in the next few days. I will also look at strengthening my tibs, and stretching out my posteriors - thanks again…