As the outside temperatures drop, people contemplating undertaking an exercise program often consider walking at the mall. Benefits include a controlled climate, an absence of traffic, security and easily available restrooms and water. However, starting a new walking program can sometimes bring on shin splints, pain at the front of the lower leg.
Mall walkers are most likely to develop shin pain from:
• improperly warmed up and stretched shin muscles
• walking on concrete or a hard mall floor
• shoes that provide poor support, are poorly designed for walking or are worn out
• weak ankle and calf muscles
• workouts that increase too quickly in length, intensity or frequency
Beginning as a dull ache in the middle of the lower leg, shin pain often disappears after a few minutes of exercise and can be relieved by rest, icing, reducing the amount and intensity of walking and alternating walking with other types of exercise. However, it will often return unless the underlying cause is corrected.
To warm up your shin muscles, walk for 5 minutes at an easy pace before stretching your calf muscles and shin muscles (hold stretches for at least 30 seconds and repeat). For the final 5 to 10 minutes of your walk, slow down to an easy pace and then repeat the stretches you performed after your warm-up. Wear shoes with flexible soles and rounded heels to absorb the shock of your feet hitting the hard mall floor and thick socks to provide cushioning. A gel insert can absorb and spread stress. Get rid of tired shoes whose soles are worn unevenly or that no longer fit well. People with high arches, whose feet roll inward (pronate), or who have gait abnormalities may need arch supports or orthotics.
If you suffer from shin splints, we can design an appropriate set of exercises to stretch and strengthen the leg and ankle muscles so shin pain will no longer interfere with your walking program. We can also evaluate your posture and alignment and help you choose appropriate footwear. After discussing your schedule and training conditions, we can make recommendations to help you avoid overuse problems.
FREE GUIDE: “7 SIMPLE STEPS TO ENDING FOOT AND ANKLE PAIN.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kim Gladfelter, MPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Women's Health Physical Therapy Specialist at PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness
Kim Gladfelter is a physical therapist, Pilates instructor, educator, author, and co-founder of PhysioFit Physical Therapy & Wellness. She is known as a keen, well-rounded expert of healing through movement and women’s health specialist in the Silicon Valley area.
Kim has helped men and women of all ages to stay active and feel their best. She also writes about managing pain in her health columns, blogs and the local Los Altos Town Crier newspaper as well as reaches out to the local community, support groups, schools, libraries, and sports centers to advise and educate on body awareness and therapeutic exercise.