Shin splints are an athlete’s worst nightmare. Seemingly impossible to treat and can get so bad that they put an end to any training or competition. A new approach to managing shin splints is emerging in the conservative medicine world that is having some amazing results. The approach focuses on relieving tension and optimizing function of the nerves that innervate the muscles of the lower leg, rather than treating the muscles themselves.
In this article we focus on three exercises to treat these nerves as they continue their course down the lower leg.
1. Prone Press Up
The ‘Prone Press Up’ focuses on creating more room for the nerve as it exits the spinal column. To Perform: Start on your stomach. Relax your lower body while placing hands just outside your shoulders. Press up into ‘cobra’ position. Hold for two seconds and lower back down. Repeat for one minute.
2. Nerve Flossing
As the name suggests, nerve flossing focuses on pulling the nerve back and forth through muscles down the course of the leg to remove any adhesions and improve function of the nerve
To Perform: Start on your back, Keeping leg straight, lift up off the table until tension is felt in back of leg. Keeping tension on leg, perform slow circles with your ankle. Continue for 30 seconds then switch direction of circles. Lower leg and repeat on other side.
Tip: If you have silicon cups, try placing along course of muscle to enhance effects.
YAPing stands for ‘Yanking Away Pain’. The goal of YAPing is to help separate your cutaneous layers of skin (the dermis and epidermis) from the underlying musculature. YAPing just above your inside knee focuses on improving the function of the saphenous nerve as it exits the adductor hiatus on the inside of the knee.
To perform: Start with legs wide, grab a handful of skin just above your inside knee (make sure you're grabbing skin and not muscle). Then start yanking! Adding in side lunge to add movement improves results.
Combining these exercises targeting the nerves with traditional rehabilitative program focusing on core, hip, and foot motor control and strength is the number one way to treat shin splints and perform at your best.