Mon. May 20th, 2024
How to Get Rid of Shin Splints

Shin splints, a common injury among runners and athletes, can be a painful and frustrating condition. These sharp pains along the inner edge of the shinbone can significantly impact your ability to exercise or engage in physical activities. 

However, there are various effective strategies to alleviate and prevent shin splints. In this guide, we will explore practical tips and techniques on how to get rid of shin splints, helping you recover, regain strength, and get back to your active lifestyle. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or someone looking to start a fitness routine, these methods can provide relief and set you on the path to a pain-free and enjoyable exercise experience.

How to Get Rid of Shin Splints?

Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, can be a painful condition caused by inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around the shinbone. 

To get rid of shin splints, try the following:Rest and avoid activities that worsen the pain,Apply ice packs several times a day to reduce inflammation,Perform gentle stretches and exercises to strengthen the muscles, Wear well-fitting shoes with proper cushioning and arch support, Gradually increase workout intensity and consider cross-training, Consider using orthotic inserts for additional support, Seek medical advice if the pain persists or worsens. Here are some steps you can take to help get rid of shin splints:

  • Rest and reduce activity: Give your legs time to heal by avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain. Resting and reducing high-impact activities, such as running or jumping, can help relieve the strain on the affected area.
  • Ice the affected area: Apply ice packs or cold compresses to your shins for about 15 to 20 minutes, several times a day. This can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Remember to wrap the ice pack in a thin cloth to protect your skin.
  • Stretch and strengthen: Perform gentle stretching exercises that target the calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and the muscles in the front of your lower leg. Strengthening exercises can help improve the stability of the affected area and prevent future shin splints.
  • Wear proper footwear: Make sure you have well-fitting shoes with adequate cushioning and arch support. Consider consulting with a professional shoe fitter or podiatrist to find the right shoes for your foot type and activity level.
  • Modify your training routine: Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts, allowing your body to adapt to the demands. Avoid sudden changes or overdoing it, as this can contribute to shin splints. Cross-training and incorporating low-impact activities, such as swimming or cycling, can also help reduce strain on the shins.
  • Use orthotic inserts: If necessary, consult with a podiatrist who can assess your foot mechanics and recommend custom orthotic inserts to provide additional support and alignment to your feet and lower legs.
  • Seek professional help: If the pain persists or worsens despite self-care measures, consider seeking medical advice. A healthcare professional can provide a proper diagnosis, recommend appropriate treatments, and address any underlying issues contributing to your shin splints.

Remember, everyone’s situation is unique, so it’s important to listen to your body and consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice and treatment options specific to your condition.

What are Shin Splints and What Causes them?

Shin splints, medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), refers to pain and inflammation along the inner edge of the shinbone (tibia). It is a common overuse injury, often experienced by runners, dancers, and athletes involved in activities that involve repetitive impact on the legs.

Shin splints typically occur due to excessive or repetitive stress placed on the muscles, tendons, and bones of the lower leg. Some common causes include:

  • Overuse: Engaging in activities that involve repetitive impact on the legs, such as running long distances or jumping, without proper rest or gradual training can lead to shin splints.
  • Poor footwear: Wearing shoes that lack proper support, cushioning, or don’t fit properly can contribute to shin splints.
  • Biomechanical issues: Abnormal foot arches, flat feet, or excessive pronation (inward rolling) of the foot during walking or running can increase the risk of developing shin splints.
  • Sudden increase in intensity or duration: Rapidly increasing the intensity, duration, or frequency of physical activity without allowing the body enough time to adapt can lead to shin splints.
  • Hard surfaces: Exercising on hard or uneven surfaces, such as concrete or uneven terrain, can increase the stress on the lower legs and contribute to shin splints.
  • Muscle imbalances or weakness: Weak or imbalanced muscles in the lower leg, particularly the calf muscles and muscles surrounding the shin, can lead to shin splints.

It’s important to address the causes of shin splints and make necessary adjustments to prevent their recurrence.

How do I know if I have shin splints or another type of injury?

Distinguishing between shin splints and other types of injuries can sometimes be challenging, as the symptoms may overlap. However, there are certain signs that can help you differentiate shin splints from other conditions. Here are some key indicators that you may have shin splints:

  • Location of pain: Shin splints typically cause pain along the inner edge of the shinbone (tibia). The pain may extend over a large portion of the shin and can be felt on both legs.
  • Pain during activity: Shin splints often cause pain and discomfort during physical activity, especially activities that involve impact or repetitive stress on the legs. You may experience pain while running, jumping, or participating in sports.
  • Pain after activity: The pain from shin splints may continue even after you’ve finished your exercise or activity. It can persist as a dull ache or throbbing sensation in the shins.
  • Tenderness to touch: The affected area may be tender and sensitive to touch. Pressing on the inner edge of the shinbone may elicit pain or discomfort.
  • Gradual onset: Shin splints usually develop gradually over time rather than occurring suddenly. You may notice a gradual increase in pain or discomfort with continued activity.

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis. They can evaluate your symptoms, conduct a physical examination, and may recommend imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRI, to rule out other possible conditions like stress fractures or compartment syndrome. Proper diagnosis is crucial for determining the appropriate treatment and avoiding further complications.

What are the common symptoms of shin splints?

The common symptoms of shin splints can vary from person to person, but they typically involve pain and discomfort in the lower leg. Here are the typical symptoms associated with shin splints:

Pain along the inner edge of the shinbone (tibia): Shin splints often cause pain and tenderness along the inner side of the shinbone. The pain may extend over a large portion of the shin or focus on a specific spot.

Pain during physical activity: The pain is commonly experienced during exercise or activities that involve repetitive impact on the legs. Running, jumping, or even walking can trigger or worsen the pain.

  1. Pain after physical activity: Shin splint pain may persist after you’ve finished your activity. The pain can range from a dull ache to a throbbing sensation in the shins.
  2. Increased pain with pressure: Pressing on the affected area or applying pressure to the inner edge of the shinbone may elicit tenderness and increased pain.
  3. Mild swelling or inflammation: In some cases, mild swelling or inflammation may be present along the inner edge of the shinbone.
  4. Gradual onset: Shin splints usually develop gradually over time rather than appearing suddenly. You may initially notice minor discomfort that progresses to more noticeable pain with continued activity.

It’s important to note that everyone’s experience with shin splints may differ. If you’re experiencing persistent or severe pain, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Should I continue exercising with shin splints, or should I take a break?

When dealing with shin splints, it’s generally advisable to take a break from activities that exacerbate the pain and put additional stress on the affected area. Continuing to exercise with shin splints can potentially worsen the condition and prolong the recovery process. Here are some guidelines to consider:

  1. Rest and recovery: Give your legs adequate time to rest and heal. Avoid high-impact activities, such as running or jumping, that can aggravate the shin splints. Instead, focus on low-impact exercises that minimise stress on the shins, such as swimming or cycling.
  2. Modify your activities: If you still want to stay active while recovering from shin splints, consider modifying your exercise routine. This could involve reducing the intensity, duration, or frequency of your workouts. Listen to your body and avoid any activities that cause pain or discomfort.
  3. Cross-train: Engage in alternative activities that don’t put excessive strain on the shins. Cross-training can help maintain your fitness level while giving your shins a chance to heal. Choose activities that are gentle on the legs, such as yoga, Pilates, or strength training targeting other muscle groups.
  4. Gradual return to exercise: Once your symptoms start to improve, gradually reintroduce exercise and activities that involve impact on the legs. Start with low-impact exercises and gradually increase intensity and duration as tolerated. It’s essential to listen to your body and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort.

Remember, the recovery time for shin splints can vary for each individual. It’s crucial to allow sufficient healing before resuming high-impact activities to prevent the risk of reinjury. If the pain persists or worsens despite rest and self-care measures, consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and guidance.

What are some effective home remedies for relieving shin splint pain?

While seeking medical advice is important for proper diagnosis and treatment, there are several home remedies that can help relieve shin splint pain. Here are some effective self-care measures you can try:

  • Rest and ice: Take a break from activities that worsen the pain and allow your shins to rest. Apply ice packs wrapped in a thin cloth to the affected area for about 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day. This can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
  • Compression: Wear compression socks or leg sleeves to provide gentle compression and support to the lower legs. Compression can help reduce swelling and provide stability to the muscles and tissues.
  • Elevation: Elevate your legs by propping them up on pillows or cushions while resting. This helps promote blood flow and reduce swelling.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with shin splints. Follow the recommended dosage instructions and consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.
  • Calf stretches and strengthening exercises: Perform gentle calf stretches to improve flexibility and reduce muscle tightness. Strengthening exercises targeting the muscles of the lower leg, such as calf raises, can help improve muscle support and prevent future shin splints.
  • Proper footwear and support: Ensure you have well-fitting shoes with proper arch support and cushioning. Consider using orthotic inserts or shoe inserts to provide additional support and shock absorption.
  • Gradual return to activity: When the pain subsides and you start to feel better, gradually reintroduce physical activity and exercises that involve impact on the legs. Start with low-impact activities and gradually increase intensity and duration over time.

Remember, these home remedies are intended to provide temporary relief and assist in the healing process. If your symptoms persist or worsen despite self-care measures, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and guidance.

What type of footwear should I wear to prevent or alleviate shin splints?

Wearing proper footwear is crucial for preventing and alleviating shin splints. Here are some considerations when choosing footwear to help with shin splints:

  1. Arch support: Look for shoes that provide adequate arch support. Flat feet or high arches can contribute to shin splints, so finding shoes that match your foot’s natural arch can help distribute forces evenly and reduce excessive strain on the shins.
  2. Cushioning: Opt for shoes with good cushioning in the midsole and heel area. The cushioning helps absorb shock and reduce the impact on the shins during activities, providing additional protection.
  3. Stability and motion control: If you have issues with overpronation (inward rolling of the foot) or supination (outward rolling), consider shoes with stability or motion control features. These features can help correct biomechanical imbalances and provide better support for the feet and lower legs.
  4. Proper fit: Ensure that your shoes fit well and have enough room for your toes to move comfortably. Shoes that are too tight or too loose can increase the risk of foot and leg discomfort, including shin splints.
  5. Athletic shoe selection: Depending on the type of physical activity you engage in, consider sport-specific shoes. Running shoes, for example, are designed to provide specific support and cushioning for the repetitive impact involved in running. Consult with a knowledgeable salesperson or a podiatrist to help you find the right type of athletic shoes for your needs.
  6. Orthotic inserts: In some cases, orthotic inserts or custom insoles may be recommended to provide additional support and improve foot alignment. These inserts can help distribute pressure more evenly and reduce the risk of shin splints.

Remember, footwear is just one aspect of preventing shin splints. Other factors, such as proper training, gradual progression, and adequate rest, also play a significant role. If you’re unsure about the right footwear for your specific needs, consult with a podiatrist or a knowledgeable footwear professional who can assess your foot mechanics and make appropriate recommendations.

Frequently Ask Questions

Q: What are shin splints and why do they occur?

A: Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome, refer to pain and inflammation along the inner edge of the shinbone. They occur due to excessive or repetitive stress placed on the muscles, tendons, and bones of the lower leg.

Q: How long does it take to recover from shin splints?

A: Recovery time can vary depending on the severity of the shin splints and individual factors. In general, it can take several weeks to a couple of months for the symptoms to fully resolve. Adequate rest, appropriate treatment, and gradual return to activity are essential for a successful recovery.

Q: Should I continue exercising with shin splints, or should I take a break?

A: It is generally recommended to take a break from activities that worsen the pain and put additional stress on the shins. Continuing to exercise with shin splints can potentially worsen the condition. Resting and allowing the shins to heal is important for a faster recovery.

Q: Are there any home remedies that can help relieve shin splint pain?

A: Yes, several home remedies can provide relief from shin splint pain. Resting, applying ice packs to the affected area, using compression, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers are some commonly used self-care measures. Stretching, strengthening exercises, and wearing proper footwear can also help alleviate symptoms.

Q: Should I use ice or heat for treating shin splints?

A: Ice is generally recommended in the acute phase of shin splints when there is inflammation and pain. Applying ice packs wrapped in a thin cloth for about 15-20 minutes several times a day can help reduce inflammation. Heat therapy can be beneficial during the later stages when pain and inflammation have subsided, to promote blood flow and relaxation.

By Sonal

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