If you’ve ever experienced shin splints, you are aware of how painful they can be. If you haven’t yet felt this typical exercise-related soreness, you’ll want to quickly knock on wood. Shin splints can be quite painful, radiating up your shin bone from your ankle, and they are difficult to get rid of.
The TikTok user @retiredcowgirlwowgirl stated, “I know this seems so silly, but when I ran ‘cross country’ in high school, my coach made us practice these ‘duck walks’ to prevent shin splints, and they truly work so great. Even though I appear absolutely foolish, I’ll do whatever to avoid damage.
There are many things you can do to try to avoid shin splints before they disrupt your run, including shin splint exercises and specific stretches. In fact, a viral TikTok suggests that it may be possible to prevent shin splints—as long as you don’t mind the unusual looks and enquiring looks you could get when implementing this preventative technique in public.
The runner in this very popular video, which has had over 3.1 million views, alternates between duck walks and pigeon walks. She starts by walking on her heels with her left and right feet pointing out toward 11 and 1, respectively, on a clock. Then she turns around and walks on her toes with her left heel pointing back toward the seven o’clock position and her right heel pointing back toward the five o’clock position.
The views made by the TikToker were supported by a large number of commenters. One person wrote, “You’re so right. “Life-changing, and my college coach made us do it as well. prevents many pains and injuries.” Someone else commented, “I completed four years of “cross country” running after graduating from high school, and I continued to do so. My legs feel good. walked 40 miles per week.”
Others appeared eager to try out this technique. Another person remarked, “Tell me how I had to go to the trainer EVERY DAY before and after practice to freeze my shins and no one provided me this information.
But can duck walk exercises really stop shin splints from occurring? What you should know is as follows.
HOW DO SHIN SPLINTS WORK? Shin splints, for those of you who don’t know the word, are pain along the inner edge of the shinbone (also known as the tibia), according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Running is frequently associated with shin splints, which typically develop from physical exercise.
Shin splints commonly appear after engaging in repetitive motions or abrupt changes to your physical activity, such as increasing the number of days you work out or the amount of time you exercise. (FWIW: The AAOS also states that having flat feet, “abnormally inflexible” arches, or exercising in unsuitable or worn-out footwear can cause shin splints, so be careful to wear the best running shoes for shin splints.)
EXERCISES LIKE THE DUCK WALK COULD PREVENT SHIN SPLINTS. Although you might be tempted to include five minutes of duck walks in your pre-run warm-up, there is disagreement among experts as to whether these exercises are really safe or efficient. According to Clint Soppe , M.D., orthopedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles and orthopedic consultant for the LA Galaxy, using duck walks to activate and strengthen the tibialis anterior and tibialis posterior (also known as two of the muscles along your calf that help with flexion) could theoretically be effective.
However, Chris Kolba, a physical therapist who specializes in sports medicine at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, advises against duck walks because of the danger of performing them incorrectly, particularly given that the majority of people lack the mobility or form knowledge to duck walk effectively. Actually, performing duck walks poorly can increase your chance of injury, which is the exact reverse of what you were hoping to accomplish with these exercises. Kolba continues, “Considering the poor form and compensations commonly seen while patients attempt this action, I also worry about the knee joint and the meniscus being at risk in the extreme position of the duck walk.
WHAT OTHER MEANS ARE THERE TO AVOID SHIN SPLINTS? According to Mark Slabaugh , M.D., an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Mercy Medical Center, gradually increasing your running distance is one of the best things you can do to prevent shin splints. (Consider adding a few more miles to your weekly mileage as opposed to 10 extra miles all at once.)
It’s a good idea to see a physical therapist if you frequently suffer from shin splints, advises Jason Womack, M.D., chief of the sports medicine section at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University. Along with the other muscles that help move the foot and ankle, “dedicated physical treatment is an effective strategy to strengthen the anterior tibialis,” he claims. Because stronger muscles boost your capacity for training, that added strength is essential in preventing shin splints (aka your ability to run farther, pain-free). Dr. Womack continues that resistance bands can be particularly useful for targeting and bolstering specific ankle muscles.
Try this well-liked exercise for strengthening: Lie on the ground with your legs extended. With one hand gripping each end of the towel or resistance band, wrap it around the sole of your left foot. For one rep, point your left toes toward the wall in front of you while flexing them back toward your shin. For the most effective injury prevention, aim for 3 to 5 sets of 10 reps on each foot.
Last but not least, Dr. Soppe suggests cutting back on both the quantity and intensity of your workouts until your shin splints have healed (although he acknowledges that “that’s usually the last thing people want to hear”). Additionally, he advises massaging your shins with ice after working out. Apply pressure and roll the ice up and down the inside and outside of your shins for five to ten minutes using an ice roller or a plastic baggie filled with ice.
According to Dr. Soppe, if you’ve tried everything and you’re still having trouble, it’s time to consult a doctor. At that time, “you want to rule out a stress fracture,” he advises.
In summary, resist the urge to try duck walk exercises and move carefully instead (and under the guidance of a running coach or physical therapist). In addition to following the latest TikTok craze, there are other ways to avoid shin splints.