-Thomas Piel, Reichenwalde, Germany
Shin splints are an irritation of the muscles and connective tissues that attach to the shinbone. The pounding of running stresses the tissues along your tibia, and if the amount of stress is greater than the runner’s ability to recover, pain results. The condition is an example of how important recovery is for improvement in sports — we must give the body time to grow stronger to make gains.
If your shins are sore from pounding the roads, trails or treadmill, try three simple yoga poses.
1. Legs Up the Wall
Sit about 6 inches away from a wall with your left side facing the wall. Swing your legs up onto the wall, laying your head and shoulders flat on the floor. Spend about 10 minutes in this position, allowing the muscles in your legs (especially your lower legs) to relax. If the position is too intense, try the legs-to-the-coffee-table pose, where you rest on your back on the floor with your calves on top of a sofa or low table.
2. Hero Pose
Kneel on the floor with your feet flat and toes pointing behind you. Sit back so that your butt rests on your heels. You’ll feel a big stretch along your tibialis muscles and the tops of your feet. Breathe deeply into the areas where you feel sensation. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute. As you grow more comfortable with the pose, you can increase the time.
3. Tree Pose
This is a simple, single-legged balance pose that helps build strength in your lower legs, helping you to avoid future shin splints. Stand with both feet on the floor about shoulder width apart. Shift your weight into your left foot and lift your right leg. Turn the leg and place your right foot against your left leg, wherever you can comfortably position it: on the calf or the inner thigh, but never against your knee. Lift your hands upward, or keep them at your sides for balance. Hold the position for five to 10 breaths, then repeat, standing on your opposite leg.
About the Expert
Sage Rountree is a yoga instructor, a USAT-certified endurance sports coach, and the author of several books on yoga for athletes, including “The Runner’s Guide to Yoga.”