If you enjoy running, or other sports that engage your leg muscle, you may have experienced shin splints at one point – that uncomfortable, continuous pain in your shinbone. Shin splints can be caused by muscle strain, inflammation, or even stress fractures and if you don’t take preventative action, will most likely get more painful. In other words, the sooner you start to treat shin splints, the speedier your recovery process will be.
Whether you know someone who would like to treat shin splints or suffering from it yourself, below we have put together a guide on the best way to treat them.
How to treat shin splints summary
- Prioritise rest
- Apply Ice
- Wear Compression Gear
- Incorporate Stretching and Strengthening Exercises
- Invest in Proper Footwear
- Get Adequate Rest and Nutrition
- If needed use painkillers
What is the best way to treat shin splints?
To tackle shin splints, it’s essential to give your body the rest it needs. Shin splints are often caused by overuse or repetitive stress on the shinbone and surrounding muscles – running long distances is often a cause for shin splints. Exercising is an important activity that a lot of us enjoy, so if you still want to enjoy working out, try to avoid activities that may aggravate your shins – swimming or cycling have a low impact on your shins. Take a break from running or other high-impact activities for a few days or weeks, depending on the severity of your shin splints.
Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and relieve the pain you are experiencing in your shins. We recommend using an ice pack – the traditional method of a bag of frozen peas – or a cold compress to ice your shins. For anything that is particularly cold, like an ice pack, we would suggest wrapping it in a towel to protect your leg from the cold. Apply ice to your shin for 15-20 minutes several times a day, especially after an intensive workout that you think could bring the pain on.
Wear Compression Gear
Have you considered wearing compression socks? They can help improve blood flow and reduce swelling in the affected area of your shins. Compression socks can also help support your muscles reducing the chances of you injuring yourself. If you are planning on exercising whilst you are suffering from shin splints, wear your compression gear whilst taking part in low-intensity activities as this will prevent the pain from worsening. Just like any piece of clothing you buy, aim to wear compression gear that fits well and provides adequate support, as poorly fitting gear can cause more harm than good.
Incorporate Stretching and Strengthening Exercises
Stretching and strengthening exercises can help alleviate shin splints by enhancing flexibility and strengthening the muscles in your legs. Some effective exercises include calf raises, toe raises, and ankle circles. Before starting any new exercise regimen, consult with a physical therapist or trainer – A professional can help identify the specific exercises that can help alleviate your shin splints and recommend a safe and effective stretching and strengthening program.
Invest in Proper Footwear
Wearing proper footwear is essential for preventing and treating shin splints. Shoes that provide sufficient support and cushioning can help reduce stress on the shins and prevent further damage. Consider popping into your local running shop where they can do a gait analysis to ensure the running shoes you buy are best suited to you. It’s essential to wear shoes that fit well and provide adequate support, as poorly fitting shoes can cause more harm than good.
Get Adequate Rest and Nutrition
Getting adequate rest and nutrition is essential for the body’s healing process. Getting enough sleep can help reduce inflammation and promote healing. Eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can also help speed up the recovery process. Make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to heal. We would also recommend that you aim to drink 2-3 litres of water a day – keep track using a 1-litre water bottle.
If needed use painkillers
If needed, painkillers such as ibuprofen can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation associated with shin splints. For a short period, they may help, although it’s important you speak to a doctor if you think you will need to take them for longer. Overdoing painkillers can be harmful to your body and have severe side effects. If you have a hot water bottle, this can also help alleviate pain.
In conclusion, shin splints can be a hindrance, but with the right treatment, you can recover quickly and prevent further damage. Remember to prioritise rest, apply ice to the affected area, wear compression socks or sleeves, perform stretching and strengthening exercises, invest in proper footwear, and get adequate rest and nutrition. If your shin splints persist despite these treatments, do not hesitate to consult with a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying conditions.
Are there any methods that you would recommend to treat shin splints? Which of the above suggestions have you found most effective? Are there any tips that you think we should include in our guide? Let us know in the comment box below.