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Shin Splints Treatment

10 Ways to Deal With Shin Splints

Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Blake Smith

Shin splints are small tears in the area where the lower leg muscle attaches to the tibia, aka the shinbone. The tears result from overuse, and since the pavement taxes your muscles more than a treadmill, many runners complain of shin pain when they first begin outdoor runs. Shin splints often occur because the calf muscle becomes stronger than the tibialis anterior, the muscle on the outside of the shin. Even if the ache isn't that bad, it's still a minor injury. Pushing through the pain could result in more severe tears — an injury that could sideline your running routine altogether.

  1. Check your form: Are you a heel striker? Landing on the heel can result in shin splints, knee injuries, or a pulled calf muscle. To prevent shin pain, focus on landing midfoot rather than on the heel.
  2. Strengthen the lower leg muscles: Since shin splints can be caused by muscular imbalance, strengthen the muscles in the lower legs by doing variations of walking on your toes and heels as well as this seated shin-strengthening exercise using a dumbbell.
  3. Run on softer surfaces: Pavement is tough on the joints and muscles. As opposed to asphalt, running on dirt roads or woodsy trails could eliminate the pain immediately.
  4. Don't skip stretching: Make time for stretches that target the lower legs, including these seven calf stretches — even on days you don't exercise — and this yoga pose that stretches the shins.
  5. Don't just run: Cross-train with other types of exercise to strengthen all your muscles and to maintain flexibility. Bike, swim, hike, walk, do yoga, and hit the weight room at your gym.
  6. Rest: Some days of rest are in order, but that doesn't mean you have to stop all physical activity. Do low-intensity exercise that doesn't aggravate your shins, such as walking or swimming laps. If resting doesn't help, then make an appointment with your doctor to ensure it's not something more serious like a stress fracture.
  7. Ice, ice, baby: Taking a full ice bath may not be the best idea during the colder months, but using an icing cup for massage protects your fingers from freezing and provides a perfectly sized contact point for troubled shins.
  8. Roll out: A foam roller can be part of your best defense against shin splints. When you feel the pain start, simply foam rolling the muscles on the shin can ease the ache.
  9. Add an incline: Running downhill can make you more susceptible to painful shin splints by putting pressure on your shinbones, but running uphill can alleviate that stress (just be careful when you head down!). This also means you should add a little incline when you run on a treadmill. Just setting the machine to one percent can really help keep shin splints at bay.
  10. Ease into outdoor runs: Once the weather warms up, don't expect to be able to run at an eight-minute-mile pace for 45 minutes straight like you could on the treadmill. Wind resistance, uneven terrain, and the lack of a moving belt to propel your steps makes for a much harder workout. Doing too much, too soon, is a surefire way to end up with shin splints or another injury, so slow down your pace, run shorter distances, and don't be ashamed to take walking breaks when necessary.

Dima-K Dima-K 7 years
The main problem that leads to stubborn shin splints that won't go away is people using pain relief techniques instead of focusing on identifying what's actually CAUSING their shin splints. There's a few different causes but the most common ones are weak or inflexible calves, flat feet or overpronation, worn out or inappropriate running shoes as well as plain and simple overload as the article mentioned. The most important thing is to identify EXACTLY what's causing your shin splints and then along with pain relief techniques like rest and icing begin to do specific stretches and exercises to correct the underlying problems. There's a really good guide on this which you can check out here:
akay akay 7 years
For the over- or under-pronators out there with shin splints: Dr. Scholl's has a machine that will map your foot and suggest the right orthotics. This site will help you find one to try out.
Allytta Allytta 7 years
when i get shin splints i can barely walk. i got really good running shoes since and the problem improved, but still, there's nothing minor about it. and it's only right leg, i'm thinking i might have some arch and stroke disproportions
girlygirl10 girlygirl10 7 years
If you do your Achilles stretch on a wall, make sure to be a little pigeon toed and don't let your arch roll in. Otherwise, you will be stretching the arch of your foot and not your calf! To the dancer, be very conciencous of your foo
neonbrite neonbrite 7 years
I have gotten shin splints both from dance and running, mine sometimes even flare up to the point where I'm limping from walking. Icing helps it go away but doesn't really fix anything for me. To the person who was wondering if it was shin splints or pronation. You may also want to ask your doctor about compartment syndrom. Two of my teammates in university (soccer) thought they had shin splints turned ot to be compartment syndrom that was fixable through surgery. Longish recovery time but they have no further complaints about the pain.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
I had shin splints when I first started running years ago. You definitely need to take a little time off running or else they will never get any better. See how you feel after 1-2 weeks off; if you back off from running as soon as you first notice the pain, it won't take very long to heal, but if you keep running through it for weeks, it will take a lot longer. I also found that walking for a few minutes before and after running helps me keep injuries at bay.
acfreema acfreema 7 years
Cross training is SO important!! I wound up with a stress fracture last summer from adding on too much road mileage too quickly. It was really tough to take time off from running to heal, but I kept reminding myself that a few weeks off now is much easier to handle than a more serious injury and never being able to run again.
ticamorena ticamorena 7 years
The first time I started jogging regularly around 4 years ago, I would get shin splits, and have since found that including both activities which don't put any weight on your legs (swimming and cycling) as well as stretches ( particularly those using a pilates band) have really helped. I also jump rope daily to keep my legs strong and now mainly do trail runs as I find my propensity for injury increases with road runs.
rw115 rw115 8 years
I find stretching helps with shin splints. Stretch 2x/day with this great stretching aid, I have one and it was well worth it.
1stharbinger 1stharbinger 9 years
I'm a dancer and I've been suffering from shin spints too. I've been doing all the exercises that are suggested for runners and some that my dance teachers suggest as well as icing them, but I wonder if there is something different about shin splints in runners and dancers. I do modern dance so I'm generally barefoot and I can't change the amount of support, but I wonder if it's pronation, or landing badly from jumps, or something else.
glitter-junkie glitter-junkie 9 years
I got shin splints REALLY badly from tap classes - I still have a dip in my shin from them which I can poke my little finger in (gross huh?) - I needed super-supportive trainers so I could still play hockey. When I started running I made sure my trainers were thick-soled and so far, it's been fine - this time it's my knees!
chameleon7 chameleon7 9 years
I just realised I put the description to the one exercise I mention a little wrong. It is like the wall toe raise exercise mention in the story, just done sitting and with a band.
bluebellknoll bluebellknoll 9 years
I also had terrible shin splints because of pronation. Even though your shoes may be newer, maybe they aren't supportive enough for you. This was a major contributer to my shin pain. When I first started running, I was wearing old crosstrainers and I never had any shin problems. Then I got some new running shoes and my shins got mangled. I now have a pair of running shoes that are supportive on the heel and arch - what a HUGE difference that made. Good luck. I hope you make a speedy recovery.
Advah Advah 9 years
Hey guys, I was the one asking Fit for help, and all the suggestions are super helpful. :) Thanks for the comments everyone, I can't wait to start running again!
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i've found that i've had to alter my routine a bit since my calves were becoming more musclular like you said above and there was an imbalance. there's nothing worse than trying to workout and being in that kind of pain. i think that it's good to know that they aren't MAJOR injuries and that shin splints can be overcome just by taking a few precautions in your workout.
akay akay 9 years
I get bad shin splints due to pronation (flat-footedness). As a former dancer I suggest: Facing up a stairway, stand on a step so that the ball of your foot is near the edge and your heels hang off. Lower your heels so that your foot is flexed, pause, and then raise them so that you're standing on the balls of your feet (demi pointe). Slowly and firmly repeat this until you start feeling a little shaky (and make sure you're holding on to the railing!). Gyms sometimes have weight machines in which you use this movement to push up weights with your shoulders, but I think that effects your calf muscle more than your arches. Just do this on an aerobics step in front of the TV or on escalators when you're out shopping and you'll feel it in no time.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 9 years
The toe raises really helped me. I usually do about 25-50 reps on either leg every day or every other day, and I haven't been getting shin splints anymore. And this was after having to stop running for almost two weeks because of them, so they're definitely worth a try. You could also try a good shock-absorbing insole from a reputable shoe store.
chameleon7 chameleon7 9 years
I have been getting shin splints the past few days, I am getting them from walking though. Another way to strength the area is using a thera-band - the flat ones and not the tube, even though you could probably use them too. Loop and tie it around something that will not move. Put one foot in the loop and pull your foot towards you. Do one set, then switch feet. Do a few reps (2 to 3 sets) of that every day or every other day and it helps.
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
I got these really bad when I first started running. I had to take time off to let them heal, then do LOTS of stretching before and after running. Definitely check you gait, I found that when I changed a bit it helped. I try to run like my legs are hinges at the hip and the whole leg follows, whereas I used to run where I would almost like kick out my lower leg, so the hinge was more at my knee. Wow does that even make sense? Sorry it's hard to explain!
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