Shin splints can be very painful, but following this simple guide to how to treat shin splints can ease your pain.
In this article:
- What Are Shin Splints?
- Shin Splints Causes
- Shin Splints Symptoms
- Shin Splints Treatment
- Recovery from Shin Splints
- Shin Splints Prevention
How To Treat Shin Splints At Home
What Are Shin Splints?
Shin splints refer to the inflammation of muscles, bone tissue, and tendons along the tibia. It manifests itself as pain along the inner edges of the tibia.
Shin Splints Causes
It usually occurs when bone tissue and muscles in the legs are overworked by repetitive tasks. Lifestyle changes such as suddenly increasing workout frequency or changes in intensity and duration such as running on hills or longer distances may cause one to develop this condition. Other factors include:
- Flat Feet
- Weak hips, ankles or core muscles
- Exercising without warming up or cooling down with stretches
- Inadequate shoes that do not provide enough support or are ill-fitting
Shin Splints Symptoms
Experiencing pain and swelling along the border of your tibia is the usual symptom of shin splints. Other common symptoms include:
- Pain when touching the affected area
- Experiencing pain before and after exercises
- A sharp or dull throbbing pain
Shin splints can be very painful but there are a lot of ways to treat it at home.
Shin Splints Treatment
Step 1: Rest
It is important to stop any activity that may be putting stress on your shins to let it heal. Avoid strenuous activity to not cause any more damage.
Step 2: Keep Your Legs Elevated
Elevating an injured area can help move fluid away from that particular part of the body to lessen swelling and pain. Keep the affected leg elevated for at least 2 to 3 minutes by supporting it with a pillow or towel roll underneath.
Step 3: Use Ice
A cold compress can be placed on your shins whenever you feel the pain to reduce swelling. Keep doing this for about three days, or stop sooner if you’re no longer in pain.
Step 4: Bind the Ice with Compression Bandages
Compression bandages with elastic wrap can be used to apply ice to the injury. Wrap the ice bag or cold compress with the bandages to keep it steady on your legs.
Step 5: Massage
You can massage your shins with your hands or foam rollers for added relief.
Step 6: Do Shin Splints Exercises
Doing stretching exercises can help relieve tight or painful shins. The standing anterior tibialis shin stretch is very easy to do and doesn’t require equipment or a lot of space.
Standing Anterior Tibialis Shin Stretch
- Stand and put your hand on the wall for support.
- Slightly bend both the knees.
- Be sure to keep one foot securely on the floor. The other foot must be stretched and placed behind the stable foot, with the toe of the foot being stretched touching the floor.
- As your toes are placed squarely on the floor, pull the leg being stretched forward. You’ll feel the stretch from the top of your stretching foot reaching the shins.
- Hold the position for 15-30 seconds.
- Repeat the process using the other foot.
Step 7: Take Medication
Medicine such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen decrease swelling and ease pain. Please consult with your doctor first before taking any medicines because they may have side effects.
Step 8: Get Foot Arch Supports
Consulting with a doctor about proper footwear and shock-absorbing insoles may help ease your pain.
Step 9: Get Help from a Physical Therapist
Experts in physical therapy can help by giving you routine exercises to strengthen the muscles in your legs.
Recovery from Shin Splints
It usually takes two to four weeks to recover from this condition. If the pain disappears within that time frame, you can start exercising with less intensity. If you start to experience pain, however, you must stop exercising immediately. Some people can take up to three to six months to fully recover from shin splints.
Here are some signs that your shin splints are fully recovered:
- Pushing on the painful spot no longer causes pain.
- Jogging, sprinting and jumping no longer causes pain.
- The injured leg’s flexibility is at the same level as the uninjured one.
- The injured leg has the same amount of strength as the uninjured leg.
Shin Splints Prevention
- Avoid doing activities on hard surfaces.
- Stretch and warm up before and after exercising.
- Wear proper footwear with adequate padding and support.
- Try cross training and low impact exercises such as biking and swimming.
- Make sure you only start exercising after two weeks of not experiencing any pain.
- Use a cold compress or ice bag on your shins after physical activity to reduce any swelling.
- Don’t over exercise and don’t return to your previous intensity level. Take it slow and start increasing intensity gradually.
Check out this informative video from Physical Therapy Video to learn some easy at-home treatments for shin splints:
In the end, overworking yourself can cause you to develop shin splints. It is very important that you pace yourself while exercising to avoid injuries. Shin splints can very painful, but taking time off and trying out home treatments can make the symptoms go away. Remember to stay off physical activity for at least two weeks after developing the symptoms. Be sure to see a doctor if the symptoms aren’t improving or if they’re getting worse.
What at-home treatments have you tried for shin splints? Tell us in the comments section below!