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Treatment for Shin Splints

Updated on April 17, 2016

Shin Splints Treatments

Shin splints are the lay term for the medical condition called medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). A common symptom is a pain in the front or side of the shin which is slow-healing and painful. Shin splints are generally caused by repetitive exercises such as walking, running, cycling and other sports.

Shin splints are the result of overuse or repeated pounding of the feet from activities such as walking or running. The downward pressure of these motions stresses the tibia and surrounding muscles, causing inflammation. Shin pain can continue for days, even when you're not using those leg muscles. Continuing to exercise will only worsen the pain and increase the tenderness in the shins. Extreme cases may include stress fractures.

This article describes some of the common treatments for shin splints and describes the best ways to prevent shin splints before they start.

Shin Splints Stretches & Exercises

How to Treat and Prevent Shin Splints

If you have ever experienced the pain associated with shin splints, then you know exactly how important it is to have an effective treatment for shin splints. Any athlete, especially marathon runners, knows how frustrating it can be to have to stop training in order to allow the shin splints to heal. Minor cases of shin splints can heal in a few days, but in extreme cases stress fractures may occur. If so, medical attention will be required in order to prevent any further damage to the bones or muscles.

Shin splints can often be treated with ice, compression, rest, stretching, and strengthening. Most times, rest and ice are the only treatments required. However, you should always stretch your muscles and warm up before exercising.

Prevention is the Best Shin Splints Treatment

Prevention is often the best medicine. This is certainly the case with shin splints. Prevention can save you the pain, frustration, and possible medical costs.

Stretching

It is no different with preventing shin splints than preventing any other sports related injury; stretching before exercising can help prevent injuries. Stretching your leg muscles can help prevent the muscles from pulling on the lower leg bones and causing inflammation.

There are many shin splints stretches that you may perform, here is one: Standing with the toes of your right foot on the top of a curb and your heel on the ground, then leaning into the curb with your leg is a quick and easy stretch to help prevent shin splints. Don't forget to stretch both legs.

Proper Shoes

The proper athletic shoe for your sports activity, whether walking, hiking, or running, is important. Cheap shoes are not designed to cushion your feet against the impact of running or walking and are a leading cause of shin splints. When it comes to protecting your feet, and preventing shin splints, don't skimp on your shoes.

Conditioning

Another common cause of shin splints is when your calf muscle is significantly stronger than the muscles in the front of your leg. Balanced leg muscles go a long way toward preventing shin splints. An effective conditioning exercise for the muscles in the front of your leg is to stand with your feet flat on the ground and then raising yourself up on your toes. You can increase resistance, if needed, by standing with your toes on the edge of a curb, lowering your heels, and then raising yourself up on your toes.

Treating Shin Splints

Prevention is the best treatment, but if you already have shin splints, then rest, ice, compression, and elevation may be what you need. This is commonly referred to as the R.I.C.E. treatment. If this treatment doesn't work after two to three days, consult your physician.

Shin Splints - A Podiatrist's View

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    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 6 years ago

      I got shin splints doing a stress test, and the bottom of my feet(ball) was so sore I could barely walk for months...they had me do the stress test without shoes on, I never found out why.

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 6 years ago

      So that is why I see runners stretching their legs that way. They have learned how to avoid shin splints.