Went to my physio last night for a 'mawling' (sorry massage) on my back. Serves me right for trying to play tennis! We came around to the subject of shin splints which I am mildly suffering from at the moment. I learnt a bit, and thought I would share it with you all.
1) Shin splints occur up the inside of your lower leg above the ankle or on the outside edge. If you have pain on the inside of your lower leg/ankle, this is possibly caused by a collapsing arch in your foot. The muscle running up the side of your shin originates from the arch, so if the arch drops whilst running, it will keep stretching this. I have orthotics that help greatly, but my physio proved to me that the muscles around my ankle are weak on the inside, but strong on the outside (fits with my shin splints).
2) To treat them, they can be iced. This is always good. If you are feeling self-masochistic, then massage them hard yourself. You may feel a lump in the muscle, which you can work out. This hurts! If it doesn't you aren't doing it properly. Enjoy the pain, love the gain
3) There are a number of exercises you can do to strengthen and exercise these muscle;
a) Stand on one leg, with the other foot resting against that leg about knee level. You will look a bit like a flamingo. If this is hard try resting your leg lower down than the knee. As you stand there you will start to feel the muscles around your ankles working.
b) Stand on your bottom step facing downstairs. Raise one leg, and put it out in front of you a little. Now "squat" a little, and back up. You don't need to go to far. As above, you will soon feel the muscles starting to work
c) I read somewhere else, that sitting on the floor with your legs out straight, and a resistance band wrapped around your foot and table leg allows you to move the toes side to side (without moving the heel).
4) Treat shin splints with respect. If they start to get really bad, STOP. The next step from here is stress fractures in your foot, and they take ages to heal!
5) Shin splints can occur as a result of a change in footwear, running style, or sudden increase in distance. If they suddenly occur take a look at what has changed.
I hope this is of some use to someone, I am sure it will help me. I was doing most of this, but now I understand why, and what to look out for.