Shin Splints Treatment
Shin splints treatment is a difficult problem for many athletes, but its is possible with a combination of techniques such as shin splints exercises and stretches, proper shoe selection, supportive equipment and most importantly rest. Untreated and without rest, shin problems may persist for months and in worst cases years.
Successful recovery from the injury requires doing a combination of rehabilitation activities. It can be extremely frustrating trying to be a successful athlete and having shin splints take the edge out of your daily workouts. Many of us have been there and have ultimately been able to resolve the problem.
Treatments are divided into two groups that attack the cause of the problem and manage the pain and recovery from the injury. Always consult with your doctor before trying any treatments.
Main treatments for shin splints
As soon as shin splints problems begin it is recommended to take a few days off. Begin your rehabilitation, stretching and lower leg strengthening exercises after you feel rested. This may be difficult mentally, but shin splints are a lot easier to treat in the early stages of the problem. It is better to miss a few workouts than suffer from shin splints for months.
Shin splints exercises
One of the main reasons you might be getting shin splints is that the muscles around the shin bone and ankles are too weak. Instead of merely resting, the most effective way is to actually try to attack the underlying cause of the problem, which might be due to muscle weaknesses. Muscle weaknesses in the lower leg, core and gluteal muscles might cause your shins get too much trauma from running.
Shin splints exercises are an effective way to battle the injury and prevents shin splints from resurfacing after the initial rest period.
Stretches and massage
Just like muscle weaknesses, muscle tightness’s might also be causing your shin splints. Tight muscles around the calves or achilles might cause incorrect function of the joints, over-pronation problems or disturb your running technique, which all contribute to having shin splints.
Self massage can be used to relax the calf and foot muscles as well as enhance the blood flow in the area. It can relieve tightness’s and increase the movement of muscles. Self massage can be done without equipment, or by using a foam roller or a rolling massage stick.
Shin splints stretches and massage should be part of your daily rehabilitation and could help to resolve the problem.
Wearing the correct type of shoes
Shoe selection can be complicated, but it also essential for shin splints treatment. Having the wrong type of shoe can highly increases the chances of developing shin pain, while running with a shoe that meets your needs can completely prevent it. Everyone has their own running style, body weight, experience level and bio-mechanics, which all affect what is the best shoe for you. For an active runner, shoes should be changed every three to six months.
Best shoes for shin splints is a simple guide made for finding the shoes that are right for you.
Avoid hard running surfaces
Running on a hard surface increases the impact and muscle trauma around your shins. Prefer running on the side of the road that is not paved, run on dirt or grass, and change your running direction if you are running on a track. Avoid roads with a lot of hills as they can also further stress your shins. Avoid running on concrete.
Stronger core and glute muscles
The reason why your shins might be inflamed is because of weaknesses in core and gluteal muscles. Weaknesses in these muscle groups typically leave too much force for your shins to handle. Reactivating and strengthening your core and gluteal muscles is key in preventing painful shin splints. Having a balanced body with the correct type of functional strength is one of the main ways of running pain-free. Improving the stability of the core and function of the pelvis could be the solution for attacking the actual cause for shin splints. Your body works as one unit and having muscle imbalances and weaknesses can be the cause for you shin splints.
Supportive shin splints treatments
Ice therapy for shins
Take a 10 minute ice bath after every running session. Alternatively, use paper cup with frozen water and gently ice massage the area of inflammation with it up to four times a day. A regular ice bag can also be applied for the same duration if ice baths or ice massages are unavailable. Ice reduces the inflammation and can speed up the recovery, but it is only a recommended as a shin splints treatment for first two weeks of the injury.
Hot and cold therapy
As a replacement for icing – taking turns placing your lower leg to cold and hot water for 5 minutes at a time can increase the blood flow, help with the muscle tensions and enhance recovery. Cold and heat can also be used in a sauna or steam room. However heat shouldn’t be used often if the shins have a lot of inflammation.
Shin splints taping to reduce tension
Taping your shins with kinesiology tape before running is one way to reduce the stress on your shins and increase the blood flow. It can also add support and take the extra load of your muscles. Refer to our guide on shin splints taping to find out exactly how to do it and which tape to use.
Ultrasound or Electric muscle stimulation (EMS)
Using ultrasound, moving slowly on the area that is inflamed with slow circles enhances the blood flow in the deeper areas around the shin. Alternatively some track & field athletes have got help with electric muscle stimulation – using light pulses on the calves to loosen them up, increase blood circulation and even address the pain.
Compression socks for extra support
Compression socks provide extra support for the aching and tired calf muscles. Putting pressure on the inflamed shins with compression socks also helps decrease inflammation and are used by many runners. Many runners have got help for their shin splints wearing them.