7 Tips to Relieve Shin Splints
Many athletes and non-athletes alike have experienced the pain of shin splints, or irritated, swollen muscles in the lower leg bones. For runners, shin splints are most often caused by rapidly increasing mileage, or by suddenly switching from soft to hard terrain. However, shin splints can also be caused by hiking, walking, and other day-to-day activities that place stress on your legs. Fortunately, shin splints often go away on their own, so treatment mainly involves relieving the painful symptoms. If you’re suffering from shin splints, here are 7 tips that will help you get back on the track in no time.
1. Give it a rest
It might seem obvious, but the most important thing to do when suffering from shin splints is to get off your feet. It’s essential to rest your legs so that they have time to heal. If you’re engaged in a serious workout or training program, and giving up all activity doesn’t sit well with you, try activities which don’t involve your legs, such as yoga, swimming, and stationary biking.
2. Ice, ice, baby
Ice is the tried-and-true method for reducing inflammation and relieving pain. Try applying ice to your shins for 20 minutes a day until the pain goes away.
3. Use painkillers
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, can help reduce pain and swelling. Try using ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen in small doses according to the directions on the package.
4. Check your step
When diagnosing the cause of your shin splints, take a look at your feet. Though less common, sometimes shin splints can be caused by arches that collapse or flatten when you walk or run. Make sure that you’re using the correct shoes for your foot type. Shoe inserts, either bought from a store or customized, can help fix the issue.
5. Easy squeezy
Wearing a compression sleeve on your leg can help relieve pain by binding your tendons and muscles to the shin bone, providing support while you recover. The added warmth from the sleeve can help ease the inflammation, too. Once you’ve recovered, wearing a compression sleeve can help reduce the likelihood of injury in the future.
6. Don’t knock a trip to your doctor
If your pain persists for more than 3 days, make sure to see a doctor for a physical exam. It’s possible that you have a stress fracture, which may require surgery if left untreated. An X-ray scan can ensure that this isn’t the case.
7. It’s a stretch
As you continue to recover, gently stretching your Achilles tendon and calves can help strengthen the muscles in the area. You can perform stretches on your own, or with the help of a physical therapist.