Shin splints can be extremely painful, and without proper rest and treatment, you risk making the pain even worse. Improper running or exercise form and muscle weakness are two of the most common causes of shin splints, and although anyone who’s physically active can get shin splints, runners, dancers, and basketball and soccer players are some of the most at-risk athletes. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help alleviate shin splint pain. If you’re wondering how to get rid of shin splints, take a look at these tips and exercises.
What Are Shin Splints?
Shin splints are a common overuse injury that occur when muscles and bones in your lower leg pull and become irritated. They manifest as pain and soreness in your shin, and typically develop after physical activity. This pain occurs when the muscles, tendons, and tissue around your shin bone become inflamed. Athletes (especially runners) often get shin splints because they put repeated stress on their shins. The pressure results in micro-tears in muscle and bone tissue, leading to swelling, inflammation, and prolonged pain. Shin splints can turn into stress fractures, so be sure to take it easy while they heal.
What Causes Shin Splints?
The most common cause of shin splints is overuse from exercise and daily activities. When repetitive high loads are placed on your shin bone and surrounding soft tissue, they’re in a constant state of fatigue. Anyone who’s physically active is at risk of developing shin splints. They’re commonly associated with weight bearing activity or running-based sports. It tends to affect those in sports that require you to stop, start, and change direction quickly, such as dancing, basketball, and soccer.
Other factors that can contribute to shin splints include:
- Having flat feet or high arches
- Rigid feet with poor mobility or flexibility
- Exercising with improper or worn out footwear
- Not warming up correctly
- Running or jumping on hard or uneven surfaces
- Poor strength, mobility, or flexibility in the lower limbs
- Drastic increases in activity
6 Signs & Symptoms of Shin Splints
- Tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner side of your shin
- Pain can be sharp or a dull ache
- Mild swelling in your lower leg
- Shin bone may be tender to the touch
- Pain that worsens during or after exercise
- Pain that improves with rest
How to Get Rid of Shin Splints: 7 Tips
1. Replace Your Running Shoes
If you’re prone to shin splints, it could be due to wearing improper or worn out running shoes. It’s vital to look for runners with good arch support as they offer extra cushion and hold your foot in place. This reduces impact and strain on the lower leg muscles, reducing your risk of injury.
On top of arch support, look for running shoes that provide a supportive fit, comfort, responsiveness, stability, and blister protection. The HOKA Clifton 8 has cushioning that provides excellent shock absorption and helps decrease the pressure under the heel and ball of the foot. They’re also super lightweight and comfortable!
2. Ice Your Shins
Place ice packs on your shins for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Wrap them in a towel and don’t place the ice directly on your skin. Ice four to eight times a day for several days. When icing your shins, try elevating them on a pillow or chair to help reduce inflammation even more.
3. Seated Shin Stretch
This stretch targets the muscles at the back of the lower leg to help alleviate pain in the shin area. Start in a kneeling position, and sit down gently so your heels are directly beneath your glutes. Place your hands on the floor behind you and lean back gently. Gently push down on your heels using your body weight to feel the stretch. If you can, lift your knees slightly off the ground to increase the pressure. Hold for 30 seconds, release, and repeat up to three times.
Rest is important when you have shin splints as getting back into exercise or activities too quickly can lead to a worse injury. Rest from all activities that cause you pain and discomfort until your shin splints subside. Try low impact activities like swimming if it feels okay for your shins.
5. Tape Your Shins
Taping your shins with the proper application can help relieve and treat shin splint pain. Kinesiology therapeutic (KT) tape can also help stabilize the muscle around the shin and improve blood flow. Using tape provides compression, which may help boost circulation and reduce pain. KT tape should be used together with other healing techniques for best results. Take a look at the video below to see how to properly apply KT tape.
KT Tape – Shin Splints | KT Tape
6. Soleus Muscle Stretch
This stretch targets the muscles in the back of your calf, which can help relieve shin splint pain. Stand up facing a wall, and place both hands on the wall. Step one foot slightly behind the other. Slowly squat down so you’re bending both knees and lean forward. You should feel the stretch in your back leg. Keep both heels on the floor the entire time. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, release and repeat two to three times. Switch and repeat with the other leg in front.
7. Foam Rolling
Foam rolling your shins can help reduce inflammation and can alleviate shin splint pain. Begin on your hands and knees with the foam roller on the floor underneath your chest. Draw your right knee forward and carefully place your right shin on the foam roller. Slowly roll up and down your shin, with your left leg firmly on the ground to control the pressure. Switch legs and repeat.
If you have shin splints, we hope these tips, stretches, and exercises banish pain and get you back to your favourite activities ASAP!
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