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April 27, 2015
Can Yoga Cure Shin Splints?
By James M Harris
Shin splints is the name given to a painful condition of the front, lower leg; the shin. If you happen to suffer from this painful and potentially debilitating problem, you will be interested to hear that yoga exercises have been proven to help to allay the pain, and to speed recovery.
Shin splints are usually associated with athletes, although they can also affect you if you are a non-athlete but you spend a lot of time on your feet. It is classified as an "overuse injury".
Despite the name, which misleads people into believing that shin splints is a condition of the actual shin bone, (there is a common misconception that it refers to small fractures of the shin bone - the tibia), it is an inflammatory reaction of the deep tissues, (possibly involving both tendons and muscles), where they enter the front or back of your tibia. In most cases, the resultant tenderness is felt between 1" to 6" above your foot. Shin splints are normally categorized as being either medial or anterior; medial shin splints resulting in pain to the inner face of your shin, whereas anterior shin splints produce pain in the front and outer face of your shin.
As far as remedies are concerned, there are several conventional therapies that are recommended. These include: a toning down of your exercise or training routine; stretching exercises; light swimming exercise; special shin splint footwear inserts, and in the more severe cases, the use of crutches. You should also avoid any downhill running as this brings extra pressure to bear in your shin area.
Many people are now taking specific yoga exercise as their remedy of choice. The poses, (Yogasanas), that are recommended if you suffer from shin splints, are the Shavasna (sometimes referred to as the Corpse Pose), the Viparita Karani (which is an inverted position where you place your legs up against a wall), and the Sarvangasana, commonly referred to as the shoulder stand.
Let's now just take a few of minutes to run through the motions of a couple of these exercises with you.
The Viparita Karani:
Start by sitting in front of a wall with our knees bent towards your chest. Then lower your back onto the floor and extend your legs upwards against the wall, all the while supporting yourself with your elbows on the floor. When your legs are fully extended, slowly and gently withdraw the support of your elbows, letting your lower back make contact with the floor. If you find the position comfortable, hold the pose for 3 to 4 minutes. To come out of the position, simply draw your knees back into your chest, and roll sideways away from the wall.
Start by lying on your yoga mat, flat on your back with your arms by your side and your palms turned downwards touching the floor. Draw your legs towards your chest; then extend fold them up, over, and behind your head. Your head back and shoulders remain firmly pressed against the floor. Now lift and straighten your back, so from the shoulders your torso is now perpendicular to the floor. Bring your hands onto your upper back, as close up to your should blades as you can, keeping your elbows pinned to the ground and spaced at shoulder width. Push your back upwards and, one at a time, stretch your legs straight up into the air pointing toward the ceiling until they are at right angles to the floor. Your weight is now fully supported by your shoulders. To exit, slowly draw your knees back towards your chest and splay your arms out for support whilst also lowering your back gently back onto the floor.
Because you are pushing your body to new heights and demands, for your own health and safety it is recommended that you should attend yoga classes with a trained instructor.
The wonderful thing about yoga therapy, and the particular poses that are good for shin splint repair, is that in addition to speeding your recovery, you will also be experiencing the awesome relaxation and peace of mind that yoga can bring to your general lifestyle.
I've been practicing yoga for many years, and now that I'm teaching yoga too, I'm excited about sharing everything I've learned. Of course my own journey as a student continues. I trying to learn everything I can about human anatomy and trying to bring that knowledge into my practice and my teaching. I highly recommend that you do the same.
I'm interested in being able to not just teach yoga to others, but to really help people to live better lives outside the yoga studio. I love how yoga can enrich people's lives more than any other form of therapy.
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