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What can I do to prevent or alleviate shin splints during rugby?

The vast amount of running required for conditioning in rugby can lead to the development of shin splints. The best way to prevent getting them is to make sure you have proper footwear, maintain proper flexibility and strength of the lower leg and hip, and slowly build your running volume. Ensure you have are in proper footwear for your longer runs, and that you have the proper studs for your practice surface. To maintain proper flexibility and strength, foam roll and statically stretch your calves. When foam rolling, hold the tender areas for 30 seconds. When stretching, hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds. Next, perform strengthening exercises for the front of the lower leg, such as toe taps. Sit down with your feet on the floor and pointed straight ahead. While keeping your heels on the floor, lift your feet off the floor, hold for 2 seconds, and lower. Repeat for 12 to 15 repetitions, and perform 1-2 sets. Lastly, perform a dynamic balance exercise to improve overall control of the foot, ankle, and lower leg, such as a hop to stabilization. To perform this exercise, stand on one leg and then hop forward on to the opposite leg. Hold the landing for 3 seconds before hopping again. Make sure the landing is soft and the knee stays in line with the toes (don't let it cave inwards). As for running, always make sure that you run longer and slower distances during your off-season before your actual training begins. You don’t want to overload the muscles you use for running and give yourself shin splints when practice starts because you didn’t do your off-season training! Common ways to alleviate the pain from shin splints include using the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method in combination with foam rolling and corrective exercise. Shin splints are usually complicated by swelling, and the longer it takes to get the swelling under control, the longer it takes to heal. An ounce of prevention goes a long way when dealing with shin splints.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.