If you engage in sports or other activities that involve running, you might have experienced painful shin splints at some time in your life. This condition is actually caused by irritation and inflammation of the anterior or posterior tibialis muscles, which run from your knee to your ankle along your femur bone and help to control the movement of your foot. You can avoid shin splints by strengthening your tibialis muscles with specific exercises.
Use targeted warm-ups to increase elasticity of muscles and connective tissues as you work up a sweat. Tony Raynolds, MS, CSCS, of TrainingGC.com, credits targeted muscle warm-ups with strengthening the stabilizers of the joints and spine and increasing dynamic flexibility. To strengthen your tibialis muscles, use warm-ups that flex your feet and use lower-leg muscles.
Perform squat press exercises using a medball or a 5- to 10-pound dumbbell. Hold your medball at chin level. Stand with your feet greater than shoulder-width distance apart. Lower yourself into a squat, pointing your knees outward and shifting your weight to the heels of your feet. Return to starting position and lift the ball over your head before bringing it back to chin level. Repeat three to five times. Raise the ball overhead and lift one leg. Slightly bend the knee of the leg you stand on. With outstretched arms, bend forward, bringing your lifted leg up behind you for balance. Take the medball to ankle level. Return to starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
Jump Rope and Jog Warm-Up
Jump rope to warm up your tibialis muscles. Do not jump higher than necessary to clear the rope. First do repetitions with two feet, then jump on just one foot for 10 to 15 repetitions and then jump on the other. Jump on alternating feet, then reverse the rope and jump backward. End your warm-up routine with three to five minutes of jogging.
The Ladder Shuffle targets the anterior tibialis. Stand in the first rectangle at the left end of the agility ladder. Assume an athletic, ready-for-action posture with your feet shoulder-width distance apart and your knees and elbows bent as you lean slightly forward from the hips. Step your right foot into the rectangle to your right. Come down on the ball of your foot and roll back to your heel. Bring your left foot into the square. Continue all the way down the ladder in this manner. Reverse and return to the starting rectangle.
Target your posterior tibialis muscles. Place cones 18 to 24 inches apart. Stand six inches from one cone. Assume your athletic ready-for-action posture. Spring into the air with your feet together and jump sideways over the first cone. Land on your mid-foot and roll back to your heels. Pause momentarily. Jump over the next cone. Repeat for 8 to 10 jumps.
Keep the length of your workout emphasizing tibialis muscles to a maximum of 20 minutes. Do cool-downs at the end of your routine to prevent blood pooling, sudden blood pressure drop and next-day soreness. Walk and stretch for 5 to 10 minutes.
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