How are shin splints treated?
Treating shin splints is quite easy in most cases. Motion splints tend to resolve within 2-3 weeks with rest and simple home remedies, which include:
- Applying cold compresses using ice packs
- Elevating your legs
- Gently stretching your shin, calf, and heel
- Wearing compression socks
- Massaging your legs with foam rollers
- Not running until walking is pain-free
- Wearing appropriate running shoes
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as naproxen sodium and ibuprofen can also be taken to help relieve pain and inflammation. In some people, an orthotic may be needed to properly correct overpronation. However, if pain persists after three weeks, make sure to contact a physical therapist.
Can shin splints be prevented?
In most cases, shin splints can be prevented by not overtraining, knowing when to rest and resume, not running on uneven surfaces, and using proper running shoes. Another way to prevent getting shins splints is by using compression gear. According to certain studies, wearing compression garments can help runners and athletes improve their endurance performance and other related complaints, such as muscle pain, muscle damage, and inflammation (2,3). Runners also tend to recover better and faster when they use compression garments.
Compression wear can help increase blood flow around the affected part of your shin and assist in the healing process. Professional-grade compression can help prevent shin splints along with its common symptoms, such as pain, discomfort, and swelling.
Aside from using compression garments, properly fitting running shoes, and not overtraining, there are also other steps that you can take to prevent shin splints. They include:
- Making sure to avoid exercising or running on tilted roads or surfaces
- Choosing shoes that feature shock-absorbing insoles
- Replacing your running shoes after reaching approximately 300-500 miles
- Gradually increasing your mileage or exercise intensity
- Including pre-running or pre-workout stretches in your routine
- Taking the time to warm up before any exercise or workout
- Performing toe exercises or strength training to help build the muscles in your calf
- Taking rest days to let your body heal and recover
- Avoiding any intensive exercises if you have severe muscle pain
Outlook for Shin Splints
Generally, people with shin splints have an excellent prognosis toward a full recovery. However, in certain cases, physical therapy may be required as part of its treatment.
- Running: How to Safely Increase Your Mileage | Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. (2014). Journal Of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.jospt.org/doi/full/10.2519/jospt.2014.0506
- Engel FA, e. (2016). Is There Evidence that Runners can Benefit from Wearing Compression Clothing? - PubMed - NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27106555
- Hettchen, M., Glöckler, K., von Stengel, S., Piechele, A., Lötzerich, H., Kohl, M., & Kemmler, W. (2019). Effects of Compression Tights on Recovery Parameters after Exercise Induced Muscle Damage: A Randomized Controlled Crossover Study. Evidence-Based Complementary And Alternative Medicine, 2019, 1-11. doi:10.1155/2019/5698460
- Shin Splints - OrthoInfo - AAOS. (2012). Orthoinfo.aaos.org. Retrieved from https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/shin-splints
- Symptoms and Causes - Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Mayoclinic.org. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/shin-splints/symptoms-causes/syc-20354105?p=1