How to Get Rid of Shin Splints
A throbbing pain along the shinbone (tibia) in the lower leg is known as Shin Splints. Various factors like weak shin muscles (anterior tibialis), irritated or swollen muscles due to vigorous activities such as running, dancing, walking as well as stress fractures cause this pain. Flat feet cause medial (also called posterior) shin splints. There are many ways to treat the pain and fix the injured bone fast, with the best treatment options mentioned below.
Shin Splints Treatment
Remedies for pain-relief at home
- Rest: Take adequate amount of rest, avoiding walking and running as much as possible until the pain goes away.
- Ice application: Applying ice to the painful area for 20–30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours reduces the pain and swelling. Massaging the painful area with an ice-cube or peeled down ice in a paper cup helps as well. Ice application is one of best ways to heal an injured shinbone in pregnant women.
Medical treatment for getting rid of shin splints
- Pain killers: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin are sometimes recommended to reduce the pain overnight. However, expert supervision is recommended while using these medicines as they tend to have certain side-effects.
- Arch-supports: Custom-made or store-bought arch supports are helpful, especially for those with flat-feet.
- Compression sleeves: Taping the injured shinbone with an elastic bandage or wearing a neoprene sleeve helps to keep the calves snug and warm, easing the pain to some extent.
Stretches and exercises for treating shin splints
- Shin stretch: Sit down with the top of your feet and legs flat against the floor (recommended to do on a mat). Lean back slowly, increasing the stretch while supporting your upper body with both arms.
- Toe pull back: Sit with your legs together, spread out straight in front of you. Slowly pull your toes back towards your torso in a controlled motion until the front of the shin tightens.
- Towel stretch: Sit down on a hard surface (e.g. wooden or concrete floor), stretching the injured leg in front of you. Loop a long towel around the toes and the ball of the injured foot, then gently pull the towel toward yourself keeping the leg straight. Hold in this position for 15-30 seconds before relaxing. Repeat 3 times.
- Anterior compartment stretch: Stand sideways next to a chair or a wall with the injured leg furthest from the chair/wall, supporting your weight with one hand. Bend the knee of the injured leg to grab the front of the foot. Then bend the front of the foot toward the heel until you feel a stretch in the front of the shin. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
How to Prevent Shin Splints
- Wearing shoes with proper support and padding.
- Warming up (stretching and bending) before exercising, running or dancing.
- Stopping running or working out immediately if you feel pain in the shin are.
- Running on soft surfaces like grass as running on hard surfaces (e.g. concrete) often increase the risk of the pain.
Exercises for avoiding shin splints
These exercises, when done 2-3 times a week, will help in preventing the pain from returning:
- Toe raises: Stand on your heels at the edge of a step, with the toes hanging off the surface. Then pull your toes upwards and inwards towards the shins until the front of your legs tighten.
- Heel Walking: Balance on both heels barefoot, walking around for 15-20 seconds in circles or forming an ‘8’. You can gradually increase the time for better results.
- Supine Hamstring Stretch: Lie on your back on the floor in a doorway with the right leg extended and the left leg propped up vertically against the wall. Hold in this position for 30 seconds before switching legs and repeating.
- Soleus stretch: Stand straight with both the palms against the wall at shoulder level. Put the right foot a few inches forward, bending the knees slightly. Bend the elbows and lean into the wall. Hold for 30 seconds before you can switch legs and repeat.
All exercises should be done under careful supervision; discontinue if there is any discomfort or adverse effect. Consult a doctor if the pain persists.