Legs from Hell! – Shin Splints (Part B)

After reading Part A, I will now gather that you have a thorough understanding in the leading cause of shin splints in Irish dancers. Shin splints are rooted much deeper into a dancers training beyond the point of bad flooring or footwear, however these can be an added cause.

A little over a year ago, I was visiting a dancing acquaintance in Dublin, who had stumbled across a video from the 1995 World Championships. Intrigued and eager to reminisce, they put it in their dusty “VCR” player. Although I was at the Championships that year, I was astonished at how far Irish Dancing had come. In only 15 years it was as if a completely new sport had emerged. For the average hornpipe back then, was full of heel drags, lethargic front clicks and bent leg over 2 3s. This is opposed to the now double beat drop heel walks, triple mid-air front clicks, and over 2 3 / front click combos we dancers push the limits with at every feis. The point I am trying to make is that “folk” Irish dancing, is now a sport, not an art form and with this change comes the need to adapt the body.

Proper sprung flooring is crucial because training in your plimsols in a concrete basement whilst attempting to do some of Irish dancing’s modern twists and turns will only damage your body so you can twist and turn no more. This is much the same for any other modern day athlete such as a runner. Running on asphalt in sandals will do the same. For me, appropriate flooring and footwear/attire is just a given. Otherwise a dancer is asking for injury.

So how do you improve you leg strength equally, to prevent and cure shin splints? For Irish dancers there are a few exercises you can try which incorporate both dance, and strength & conditioning


This exercise is very basic and can be done during warm ups / cool downs or whilst even watching TV.

Step 1: Sit upright with legs on the floor parallel.

Step 2: Point toes down to the floor, trying to achieve a line from the waist to the middle of the foot. Past this point, the foot should begin to curl downwards. Hold for 10 seconds. (A)

Step 3: Flex toes up towards the torso. Keep toes taut for 20 seconds. (B)

Step 4: Repeat!

A) Point Toes

B) Flex & Hold

Next exercise coming momentarily!

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