- Intense activities such as running, dancing, basketball, tennis, or even military training.
- Running downhill or on slanted surfaces.
- Worn-out shoes.
- Flat feet or rigid arches.
- Sudden increase in activity or intensity of workouts.
Best Treatments for Shin Splints
Relieve pain and swelling at home. This step doesn’t actually take care of your problem, but it does get you feeling better, which is what you really want right this minute anyway. You can take OTC anti-inflammatories (like Aleve, which Amazon sells) and ice your shins. I had a friend in high school who would do this by filling a 10-gallon bucket with ice and sticking her feet in. I’m not that hardcore, so I’d recommend a few bags of ice or frozen veggies wrapped in washcloths draped over your legs. Ice a few times daily for around 15-20 minutes for a good bout of comfort.
Take a look at your footwear. You want new shoes that fit you well and are suited to the sport you’re performing. The soles of your favorite old sneaks have worn-out treads and your toe is hanging out of a hole. Those things can’t absorb shock anymore, leaving it up to your body to make up the difference. And you’re feeling the pain of that difference right now. I know some specialty running stores have staff who can even tell you what kind of shoes are best for your feet. Another option is arch supports. Amazon has a wide variety of arch supports, and they’re a heck of a lot cheaper than a new pair of sneakers.
Take it easy and switch to another activity to cross-train.Taking some time off is an easy way to ease shin splint pain, but it will probably just start up again when you start exercising again. Lower the intensity of your workouts or exercise less frequently, and then slowly build on that lower level. Also switch to another activity that isn’t quite as stressful to your shins, like swimming. That way you stay in shape and also work different muscle groups, building up your body’s all-over strength, which should be your fitness goal anyway.
Strengthening lower leg muscles will reduce the likelihood for shin splints. Strong muscles are better at supporting your body through all the crap you put it through. So strengthen up those calves! Just slowly bouncing on your toes for as long as you can stand it is a good starting place, and it’s tougher than you’d think. Jumping rope is another killer calf workout. I love stretching out my shin muscles after a run: sit on the ground with your legs together, straight out in front of you. Point your toes and slowly lower your upper body towards your legs. Awesome.
Be sure that you actually have shin splints, and not a stress fracture. It’s possible to confuse the two, as stress fractures in the lower legs are common in runners, too. The difference is that shin splints only affect the soft tissue, whereas a stress fracture is a little crack in your bone from too much pressure. It might be hard for you to tell the difference yourself, but a doctor will be able to diagnose which one you’re dealing with, and then tell you how to proceed.