According to a medical definition, a shin splint is an acute form of pain in the shin and lower leg due to inflammation.
Another term commonly used to address the same case is ‘Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome’. The condition involves an inflammation of bone tissue, tendons, and muscles around the tibia.
Therefore, you experience pain in this particular part of your leg, i.e. area where your muscles attach the bone. The inner borders of the tibia are most affected with inflammation and swelling.
Typically shin splints are caused due to prolonged running on hard surfaces. They are common among people who are dancers, athletes and military recruits as these people have to undergo intense exercise routinely.
These intensive exercise routines overwork the muscles, bones, and tendons leading to muscle swelling, inflammation, and pain.
What causes shin splints?
Although it is said that shin splints are caused as a result of putting an excessive amount of force on the shinbone and the muscles surrounding it, but it is not the only cause.
Shin splints can be caused due to a sudden activity change, mostly when people suddenly start a new intensive exercise plan.
Prolong running on hard, uneven surfaces is another crucial cause of shin splints.
An often-overlooked cause of shin splints is exercising while wearing uncomfortable, worn-out trainers that don’t support the feet while exercising.
Being overweight can also contribute to developing shin splints.
People who have flat feet also tend to develop shin splints.
Bone fractures can also lead to shin splints as a stress reaction.
People with tight calf muscles and weak ankles can quickly develop shin splints
How to avoid shin splints?
The key to preventing shin splints is to avoid the causes. The following shin splints preventions can be taken to reduce the chances of shin splints.
The simplest precaution for shin splints is to avoid overdoing high impact exercises.
Wearing the appropriate trainers that are comfortable and provide support and cushioning to the feet will help prevent shin splints.
People with intensive routine exercises should run or train on even & soft surfaces whenever possible.
If you make a sudden change in your exercise routine, it is better to change your activity levels gradually instead of rushing into a new exercise plan.
Your exercise should be a balance of low and high impact exercises.
Losing weight is also prevention for shin splints.
Shin splint prevention also involves improving your flexibility and strength.
Warming up before exercising and stretching after exercising, especially stretching the front leg calf muscles is a right way of preventing shin splint.
What do shin splints feel like (Symptoms)?
The main symptom felt by people suffering from shin splint is a pain in the front of the lower leg bone (the shin bone).
The pain of shin splints often starts after exercising and develop as exercise progresses.
The symptoms of pain gradually decrease while resting.
Patients also experience tenderness, soreness along the inner side of the shin bone.
Swell in the lower part of the leg is also a symptom of a shin splint.
Sometimes the pain of shin splints is felt as a dull pain in the front lower part of the leg.
Shin splint pain is felt on either side of the shin bone, and it is also a muscular pain.
Feet Numbness and weakness are also a symptom of a shin splint.
How to Treat Shin Splints (Treatment of Shin Splints)?
11 Ways to Get Rid of Shin Splints – A comprehensive guide provides you with the most effective treatment options for shin splints.
If you are experiencing the symptoms associated with shin splints, you should consult a medical practitioner as soon as possible.
Your physician will typically ask you for a brief medical history and ask you some simple questions to understand the case better.
Afterward, your doctor may examine your lower leg to observe the swelling and any shape deformity. In some cases, additional visualization tests are also suggested, such as X-rays.
The diagnosis will direct your physician to suggest an appropriate treatment considering your condition.
Depending upon the level of severity and availability of options, your doctor may recommend different treatment options. Generally, the treatment of shin splints is divided into two classes:
Non-Surgical Treatment – The majority of the cases are treated through non-surgical approaches. The 11 Ways to Get Rid of Shin Splints, given in this article are also the non-surgical and safest approaches to treat shin splints.
Surgical Treatment – Only applicable in rare and most severe cases when none of the other options stays competent enough.
11 Ways to Get Rid of Shin Splints
1. Tape treatment for Shin Splints
Using kinesiology tape is a fast treatment for shin splints.
A study has reported that people who used kinesiology tape for just a week experienced a reduction in shin splint pain.
As discussed, an earlier shin splint is a cause of overworking the shin muscle and bone. Wherefore, the kinesiology tape helps to lift the superficial tissues and improve the healing process.
The crucial step in tape treatment is the improvement of blood circulation, allowing a better exchange of materials, especially the wastes to move out of the inflamed area.
The tape also stimulates the nerve endings to relax the muscle. Moreover, i is easy and comfortable to wear due to its elastic nature; moving your leg and walking is not a problem.
Stepwise Guide for Tape Treatment
Putting on the kinesiology tape is easy. You only need to follow the following simple instructions;
Step 1: Measuring the tape length required.
The first step is to measure the length of tape required. For measuring; sit down with your leg in front, and your foot flexed, measure the tape from the top centre of your foot to just below your knee. This is the amount of tape you will need.
Step 2: Peeling and Sticking the Tape.
The next step is to peel the tape and stick it below the outside of your knee till beneath the base of the toe (while keeping your foot flexed).
Step 3: Removing Air Gaps for Better Sticking.
Next, point your toes and lightly press the tape so that it lies flat on your shin.
Step 4: Smaller Tape Stripes for Entire Shin Coverage.
The final step is to cut out smaller stripes of the tape to cover the full width of your shin. Stretch and stick the tape pieces across the shin bone in a lateral position.
2. Treatment of Shin Splints by Stretching and Exercising
Stretching and exercising is a great way to treat shin splints; stretching is effective in alleviating shin splinter pain.
Your physical therapist will recommend the following stretch exercises to help relieve the shin splints.
–Toe-up Stretch for Treatment of Shin Splint:
The purpose of this stretch is to increase muscle endurance. This also helps to loosen the stress on the front portion of the lower leg.
To perform a toe-up stretch exercise:
Keep your back and butt against the wall with your feet flat on the floor.
Stay in this position and lift only your toes off the floor and point towards the ceiling.
Keep the toes in this position for 5 seconds and repeat this exercise 10-15 times.
Gradually increase the holding time as you repeat this stretch.
–Upper Calf Stretch for Treatment of Shin Splint:
Another stretch for the treatment of shin splint is the calf stretch that helps in strengthening the upper calf muscle. This exercise is meant to loosen the calf muscle and relieve pain.
A regular upper calf stretch exercise will help you get rid of the swelling in your shins, alleviating the condition.
For this stretch stand facing the wall.
keep the width of the one-foot shoulder in front of the other, the back leg is held straight whereas the front knee is bent.
While staying in this position, push against the wall until a stretch is felt in the calf of the back leg.
Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat this stretch for the other leg as well.
–Lower Calf Stretch for Treatment of Shin Splint:
The lower calf stretch helps to relax the top muscle and stretch the lower muscle to alleviate pain in the shin.
To do this stretch put one foot in front of the other for balancing put your hands on the wall, next slightly bend your knee and lean back to stretch.
Remain in this position for 30 seconds and slowly straighten your knees to come back to the original starting position.
Then bring the other leg in the same position and stretch again.
It is recommended to perform this stretch six times (i.e. three times for each leg).
–Seated Shin Stretch for Treatment of Shin Splint:
This incredible stretch exercise helps to relieve both muscle inflammation and pain.
To perform the exercise, sit in a kneeling position (both legs should be in the kneeling position) with your hips on your heels.
After assuming this position, gently push in the downward direction to stretch the muscles in the front legs, remain in this position for 30 seconds.
After 30 seconds, lean up to relieve the stretch on the muscles.
–The toe-up Achilles Stretch for Treatment of Shin Splinter:
This stretch is similar to upper calf stretch and is also as effective to treat your condition.
The first step is to stand with your feet a shoulder-width apart from each other near a raised surface.
Then lift your foot and place the ball of the foot on the raised surface.
Stay in this position and bend your knee lean in the forward direction.
Do it all while pressing your heel towards the floor.
Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds and repeat this stretch ten times for each leg.
–Kneeling Achilles Stretch for Treatment of Shin Splinter:
This stretch is particularly useful to relieve the taught muscles and tendons in your lower legs.
To perform, simply sit in a kneeling position on one leg and keep the other leg in front with the foot flat on the floor.
Slowly lean forward, bending the knee and pushing it gently towards the floor.
Hold this position for about 20-30 seconds and repeat the same stretch for the other leg.
It is important not to push your knee too hard on the floor.
–Alphabet Stretch for Treatment of Shin Splints:
The most tranquil stretch to loosen the stress on the shin muscles is to get in a set position and start moving your toe in a movement similar to drawing each letter of the alphabet. Do this with both feet one by one up to 4 times.
3. Best Running Shoes for the Treatment of Shin Splints
Just as wearing the worn-out or unsupportive shoes can be a cause of shin splints, choosing the appropriate trainers for your workout is among the best prevention and treatment for shin splints.
Many of us wonder how to get rid of shin splints when we are compromising the dominant factor. Shoes matter a lot, and comfortable, supportive shoes can help to relieve the condition or even prevent it from happening in the first place.
What Running Shoes are best for Shin Splints?
For the treatment of shin splint, it is recommended to choose shoes that are comfortable to wear and cushion your feet.
It is also recommended to select the shoe that matches the strike of your feet. There aren’t shoes mainly designed for shin splints, but there are good quality running shoes that can alleviate the pain of shin splints.
These shoes provide extra cushioning and act as shock absorbers when your foot strikes the ground during workouts. The characteristic features of the best running shoes are,
Extra cushioning for shock absorption
Choose the shoes that support your body and help in balancing
Shoes with a low heel drop relieve pressure on the shins
Make sure the shoes fit correctly and are flexible so that you can stretch your shins.
We have selected some of the best running shoes for shin splints, which you can buy from amazon. Choose them from the table below:
4. Compression Socks for Shin Splints Treatment
Compression socks or sleeves as the name indicates are a type of elastic stockings that help to apply an even compression pressure on the limbs.
The compression provides support to the muscle to reduce the strain affecting the muscles and bones.
Compression sleeves improve blood flow to the shin, as this compression aids to move the blood back to the heart. Proper circulation promotes healing as the blood carries nutrients to the muscle and takes away waste.
Compression socks are an effective treatment for shin splints. It help relieve the pain caused due to inflammation and soreness; applying compression at the site of injury reduces inflammation. The proper flow of blood removes lactic acid that has accumulated to alleviate muscle soreness.
5. RICE Treatment for Shin Splints
RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. It is a conventional treatment for muscular strain and sprains, also useful for shin splint treatment.
The cause of shin splints is overworking, so resting is the most natural treatment to start with.
Putting ice on the affected area helps to reduce inflammation, compression improves circulation, whereas elevation reduces blood flow to the site of injury to lessen inflammation.
It is vital to give your muscles some rest, especially to relieve the strain on your legs. Avoid too much activity like running and long-distance walking but do not completely stop all activity. Low impact exercises are still recommended, such as light walking.
When using ice, make sure to place the ice or cold pack for not more than 20 minutes on your legs. Ice treatment will relieve swelling and pain in the leg. Repeat this treatment 4 to 8 times daily. You can also use a towel wrapped ice on your legs.
Compression bandages, sleeves, and stockings are available to allow compression of the affected area, relieving swelling and pain. You can easily purchase these compression items from online stores, sporting goods stores or drugstores.
Note: For Compression Socks, and Sleeves, See the table under “Compression Socks for Shin Splints Treatment” section (above).
Elevating the leg helps to reduce the swelling. Make sure to place a pillow beneath your leg while lying on a bed. While sitting, also put some leg elevating object beneath your leg to support it. Elevation helps improve the circulation of blood in your legs.
6. Shin Splint Treatment with Ginger Paste
Applying ginger paste on your swollen painful shin can help with the treatment of shin splint.
Ginger paste is an effective remedy because of the anti-inflammatory compounds present in ginger that reduce swelling and its analgesic properties help to relieve pain.
7. Vitamin D for the Treatment of Shin Splints
If you are suffering from shin splints, the best treatment is to improve your diet. Improving your diet will not only get you rid of shin splints but also prevent other health-related problems.
Adding a proper amount of vitamin D in your diet will reduce inflammation and swelling from the site of injury. It is recommended to consume vitamin D rich foods such as oranges, cheese, eggs, and tuna, etc.
It is advised that vitamin D supplements should only be taken after your doctors’ consultation.
8. Taking a Salt Bath to Get Rid of Shin Splints
Take a relaxing bath to get rid of shin splints, add salt particularly Epsom (magnesium sulfate) salt in the water while bathing.
This relieves pain and inflammation due to the analgesic property of magnesium in the salt.
9. Safe Anti-Inflammatory Drugs for Shin Splints
NSAID, standing for Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, is most recommended because these drugs are safe.
Always take the drugs in asafe suggested dose, as recommended by your physician. Also, note if you already have any other disease or immune disorder. In such a case, discuss your condition in detail with your physician.
10. Physical Therapy Treatments for Shin Splints
In some cases, some advanced physical therapy treatments are given to treat the shin splints. These treatments mainly aim to improve blood circulation in the affected area and reduce any swelling or inflammation.
These include treatments such as;
Pulsed Ultrasound – This helps to increase blood circulation and decrease inflammation. The other process may also include a medicated gel for ultrasound, aiding to relieve the pain.
Shock Wave Therapy – This treatment mainly helps to treat chronic shin splints. Moreover, the low-energy shock waves used in this process helps treat the condition within a short time range. This shock wave therapy is more generally known in the medical literature with the name ‘Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy’ (ESWT). ESWT, along with stretching exercise routine, is one of the best combinations to treat shin splints.
Cryotherapy and Soft Tissue Massage – The cold therapy and soft tissue massage help to improve blood circulation, relieve tissue inflammation and pain.
11. Acupuncture for Shin Splints
Acupuncture is one of the safest and natural remedies to relieve shin splints. It helps to get rid of the pain and swelling you experience due to shin splints.
One study suggests that appropriate acupuncture among athletes (runners experiencing shin splints) helped them cure the ailment. An overall reduction in the NSAIDs was also observed which they otherwise required in more significant amounts to relieve the pain.
12. Essential Oils for Shin Splints:
These were some of the most effective ways of getting rid of Shin Splints. If you want to know about other foot-related problems, you can check out the links below: