Shin splints are a common sports injury when athletes overuse their legs, especially when running. The pain associated with a shin splint is felt along the tibia or shinbone, and can be caused by swollen muscles or fractures. Shin splints can cause discomfort for days or even months, depending on the severity of the injury. To find out how to treat and prevent shin splints, read on.
Method 1 of 3: First Aid for Shin Splint
Step 1. Try to rest
Since shin splints are almost always caused by overexercising, the first thing to do is to reduce the intensity of your exercise to a level where you don't feel any pain. Rest allows the swollen muscles along the shin to heal.
- Avoid sprinting, running, or walking too fast while recovering from a shin splint.
- If you still want to exercise during your recovery period, try other low-impact exercises, such as cycling or swimming.
Step 2. Compress the shins with ice
Shin splints are usually caused by inflamed muscles, and an ice pack can relieve pain and reduce swelling.
- Put in a normal plastic bag to wrap food in ice, cover it, then cover it with a thin towel. Put this ice pack on your shins for 20 minutes.
- Do not apply ice directly as it can damage the skin.
Step 3. Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs
Medicines containing ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin can help reduce swelling and relieve pain.
- Make sure you take this medicine according to the recommended dose because NSAIDs can increase the risk of bleeding and ulcers.
- Don't assume taking NSAIDs can numb your pain so you can exercise as normal because that means you're only treating the symptoms, not the problem so your injury could get worse.
Step 4. See a doctor
If your shin splint injury makes it difficult for you to stand and walk because it hurts so much, you should seek medical attention. There may be a fracture in the bone so that your leg hurts so much. In some rare cases, cracks or other causes of this shin splint must be treated surgically.
Method 2 of 3: Physical Therapy for Shin Splint
Step 1. Stretch in the morning
Keep your muscles supple by stretching them before you go through the day. Try some of these stretching techniques to help you recover faster from a shin splint:
- Do the stair stretch. Stand on the steps or stairs in a position where your toes don't touch the steps or steps. Point your toes down, then stretch your toes up. Repeat 20 times, rest for a few seconds, then repeat 20 more times.
- Stretch on your knees. Kneel with the backs of your feet flat on the floor, then slowly sit on your feet. At this point you should feel the shin muscles stretch.
- Stretch the Achilles tendon if you feel pain on the inside of your shin, which many people experience. If you feel pain outside of your leg, stretch your calf muscles.
Step 2. Strengthen the shin muscles
By doing the following exercises several times a day instead of running, you too can recover muscle quickly.
- In a sitting position, make letters from A-Z with the tips of your toes.
- Walk in heels for 30 seconds, then switch to walking normally for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 or 4 times.
Step 3. Slowly return to your running routine
Increase your running distance by no more than 10 percent each week. If you feel the shin splint injury is starting to feel back, reduce the activity of this run while the pain is gone.
Method 3 of 3: Prevention Strategies
Step 1. Warm up before exercising
Get in the habit of warming up before running, sprinting, or doing other sports like soccer and basketball that require a lot of leg movement.
- Do a slow jog for a kilometer before continuing for a longer distance.
- Walk briskly for a block or two before you run.
Step 2. Exercise on a non-hard surface
Shin splints can be caused by running on pavement or a hard surface that puts pressure on the shins.
- Try running on dirt or grass instead of roads or sidewalks.
- If you are forced to run on the road, vary your routine by incorporating cycling, swimming and other exercises so that your feet don't hit the hard road each day.
Step 3. Change your running shoes
If your shoes are worn out, new shoes with more cushioning can help reduce the pressure felt by your shins. If you have an overpronation or oversupination type of foot, buy shoes that are designed for these problems.
Step 4. Try orthotic insoles
If you are prone to shin splints, you may want to ask your doctor to get you orthotics to support the arch of your foot. The sole of this special shoe will change the way your foot hits the road and prevent your foot from receiving too much pressure.
- Use insoles to support the arch of the foot in running shoes or see your doctor for an orthopedic recommendation or a podiatrist who can help you treat a shin splint.
- Use running shoes that suit your foot type and running style.
- Continue to stretch the shin even after the pain has subsided to prevent it from coming back.
- Avoid running on hills and on hard surfaces for long periods of time until you feel your shins have completely healed. After that you can slowly add running in the hills to your training menu.
- Don't always run in the same direction on a route or on the same side of the road. Change direction or side of the road so that the pressure on one foot is not greater than the pressure on the other.