If you have ever had shin splints, you know just how unpleasant they can be. That pain in the front of your leg that stops you from running, nagging away at your legs. If you are dealing with injuries like a shin splint, more technically called “medial tibial stress syndrome,” then you are probably desperate to do whatever you can to ease the pain and get rid of shin splints, so you can go back to sports and running. For now, take those shoes off, take a break from sports training, and try not to feel bad about not doing anything more than slowly stretching your ankle and leg.
We have gone through medically reviewed advice and data to deliver you a free one-stop shin splints fixing hub to give you all the wellness info you need to get back to sports. We can’t provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, but what we CAN do on this site is help you learn how to prevent shin splints and how to deal with them when they arise. Check out our site settings, privacy, terms, and conditions, personalized cookies policy, etc., and then read on below to learn more about shin splints, flat feet, stress fractures, and the world of leg injuries, and see our top tips for support exercises!
What causes shin splints?
Shin splints are painful and frustrating, but did you know that the term “shin splint” actually covers a range of different injuries and ailments that you might encounter in your lower leg and ankle muscle groups and bones? There are several different problems that are all known as “shin splints,” and working out which you are suffering from will affect treatment.
The two main types are bone shin splints and muscular shin pain. Bone-related shin pain is the most common lower leg problem – about 90% of shin splints are due to bone problems! In this case, the bone in your shin swells up, and this can lead to a stress fracture. This is caused by a combination of three problems. The first is activity: if you dive into too much training too fast, this can be a major problem. The second issue is bone density: if your bone density is low, you can experience fractures more easily. Body mechanics are also important: your foot type, stride style, and physiology can affect the health of your legs.
Muscular shin splints are less common but can be equally problematic. These are usually caused by ECS or exertional compartment syndrome. This can be identified by an extremely painful tightening during exercise that vanishes completely after your workout is over.
How to get rid of shin splints
Because there are two completely different causes of shin splints, there are two completely different approaches to dealing with them, and you need to make sure you’re using an appropriate method for leg wellness.
How to get rid of muscular shin splints
Muscular shin splints are much easier to deal with than bone problems. The first thing you need to do is to buy a foam roller, as this is a great tool that can make a huge physical difference to your muscle tightness. One of the biggest problems with muscular strain is tightened fascia, the sheath in which your muscles are wrapped. This can be loosened up with some foam roller exercises. Get on the floor and run your calves and shins over a foam roll for a few minutes, at least 3 times a day. If you’re not sure how this works, check out a youtube video as a guide to the mechanics of floor roller exercises. Massage and other physical therapy services can also make a big difference. If none of these approaches help, visit a doctor.
How to get rid of bone shin splints
The first step of dealing with shin splints that affect your bones is a simple one: see a doctor, and get a proper diagnosis. Bone stress injuries can easily become fractures, and that’s a problem that will take you out of action for a much longer time. You’ll also need to ensure you take dynamic rest – go for a workout that does not put stress on your legs, such as swimming.
Getting rid of shin splints: general tips
One of the best things you can do to help your body to recover from shin splints is to rest your legs. Don’t put any more weight on them than you have to when standing on flat surfaces, and don’t train until you’re recovered. Wear loose, comfortable footwear, and don’t try anything more advanced than standing on flat surfaces. A few days of rest should help to ease any inflammation, and the less weight you put on them, the sooner you’ll be back to being the runner you love to be.
Ice is also a great option; you should always choose ice rather than heat packs for dealing with shin splints or injured knee or toes. Ice your shins for 20 minutes or so a few times a day, pressing an ice pack wrapped in a towel into your calf and foot.
Gentle stretches of your shin, calf, toes, and foot can also help. These need to be gentle, low-impact stretches rather than heavy-duty exercise stretches, however, as putting too much strain on your foot, shin, or calf can make your injury worse and cause further damage to your health. Stretch your shins and muscles gently, and if you feel any pain at all, stop immediately before you stretch yourself into another injury in your muscles!
How to prevent shin splints before they happen
There are several different methods you can use to try to prevent shin splints from occurring before they start to be a problem. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to avoid leg pain.
The 10 percent rule
You might have heard of the 10 percent rule before, but if you’re not sure what it is or how it works, then it’s worth looking into more. One of the biggest causes of shin splints is increasing your training load too far too fast, putting too much unexpected strain on your legs. The 10 percent rule is a guideline that says that you should never increase your total weekly mileage by more than 10 percent at a time. That means never running more than 10% more than you did the week before, slowly increasing your distances rather than making major changes. Keeping the increase slow like this can help your legs to adjust to the strain gradually, protecting you from shin splints and other related injuries.
Check your Calcium and Vitamin Levels
Low levels of calcium and vitamin D can make your body much more vulnerable to injury, so you might want to supplement your intake if you’re low, either with dairy products or with vitamin tablets. However, too much vitamin D or calcium can have adverse effects, so it’s best to be careful. If in doubt, talk to your doctor and get some advice from them!
Change your Shoes
One of the best things you can do if you think you can feel the beginnings of tension in your muscles and connective tissues is to change your shoes. A good pair of shoes that offer good arch support and prevent pronation can make a huge difference and can help to keep your legs and foot safe and pain-free.
Shorten your stride
Long, heavy strides when you run put a lot of load and stress on your feet, shins, knee, and everything above them. Shorter, faster strides can be much better for your body and can help to reduce the risk of injury significantly. Keep track of how fast your strides are, and aim for a pace of about 80 to 90 strikes of one of your feet on the ground per minute. That’s a total of 160 to 180 footsteps per minute at full speed.
Work on your hips and core
Your hips and core are a large part of your body mechanics, and the strength of these parts of your body has a major effect on how your feet move. Strengthening your hips and core will improve your body mechanics and strides, reducing the risk of injury and inflammation for any runner.
If you’re suffering from shin splints, you’re not going to be running 500 miles any time soon. You’re not even going to be doing any exercise at all if you care about your health. Take some anti-inflammatory medicine, rest your legs, and try to have a bit of a break for a few days. Don’t get tempted by ads for “medically reviewed” instant cures or miraculous pain products. The best, actually medically reviewed, advice is that you should try resting your shins, stretch your leg and ankle muscles gently, and avoid exercise other than gentle stretching until the pain in your shins and muscles has completely eased.