Do you want to how to get rid of shin splints?
You likely do if you have this painful condition.
Fortunately, there are many low cost ways of alleviating shin splints or preventing them altogether.
What Are Shin Splints?
What exactly are shin splints? Shin splints is a name that refers to pain that runs along the shin bone, in the front lower portion of the leg.
Shin splints are also sometimes called “medial tibial stress syndrome,” which refers to the shin bone (tibia).
What Causes Shin Splints?
Shin splints can be caused by many different issues or a combination of problems. It really depends upon the individual person. Causes of shin splints include:
- Flat fleet (overpronation)
- Weakness in the muscles of the hips, ankles, or core
- Poor quality shoes
- Lack of arch support
- Improper or lack of warm up or cool down before or after a workout
Why Are Shin Splints So Painful?
Shin splints can be quite painful. The muscles and connective tissue along the shin bone become inflamed and sore.
Then, if you need to walk after your workout, you can end up aggravating the shin splints. Running after your child when they are in the yard or going up and down stairs to take care of laundry can cause flare ups and more pain. Ouch!
Risk Factors for Shin Splints
You are more likely to get shin splints if you fall in one of these categories:
- You have flat feet.
- You have overly high arches in the feet.
- You run a lot for exercise.
- You are overweight.
- You do not stretch your muscles after a workout.
- You tend towards not hydrating yourself properly before and after a workout.
Taking better care of yourself overall can help prevent shin splints, but it is not a guarantee. However, there are certain things you can do to avoid this painful inflammatory condition.
How to Prevent Shin Splints
Ideally, rather than learning how to get rid of shin splints, you will find ways to prevent them from happening in the first place.
1. Don’t Overdo Exercise
Overdoing exercise can increase the possibility that you may come down with painful shin splints afterwards. This is especially true if you have not been exercising much recently and are more out of shape.
Instead of pushing yourself too hard, which can lead to inflammation of the muscles and joints, take it easy.
Slowly work to increase your endurance and flexibility before pushing yourself to the max. This will help prevent shin splints before they start.
2. Don’t Just Exercise in One Way
Cross training is the practice of alternating different types of exercise, so you don’t overuse specific muscles.
This gives you a more well-rounded workout overall. This will help prevent shin splints and also is a great way to improve your overall fitness.
For example, if you are a runner, mix it up with some swimming or gentle yoga (for stretching).
3. Wear Proper Footwear
If you are wearing cheap tennis shoes when you are running long distances, you are asking for trouble. Especially if are using your feet for extended periods of exercise, such as jogging, running, speed walking, or even walking, you need good athletic shoes.
You should also have proper shoes if you are doing cross training at the gym. Wear shoes with proper arch support for doing lunges and jumping jacks.
Don’t skimp when it comes to wearing shoes to an aerobic workout class. If you are choosing shoes for Zumba dance classes, don’t focus just on how they look. They might be cute, but if they give you shin splints, that is not attractive now, is it?
You should also wear good, supportive footwear when you are not in the gym or out exercising.
4. Try Barefoot Running Footwear
Barefoot running footwear is not obviously the same thing as being barefoot – since footwear and bare feet are mutually exclusive. However, these are shoes designed to give your feet the experience of being bare without the danger of stepping on something that could hurt the foot, like a small tack or gravel.
For some runners, using this special type of footwear, that often has separate slots for each toe, is a sure fire way to avoid shin splints. You might as well try it.
How to Get Rid of Shin Splints
Here are some ways you can alleviate shin splints once you have them. You can certainly use multiple methods to work on reducing the pain, within common sense and reason.
1. Ice Packs
Ice can help reduce inflammation, so you can ice the area a few times a day for approximately 20 minutes each time.
Ice and ice packs should be wrapped in a towel or something else that will keep it from directly touching the skin.
2. Compression Bandages
Compression bandages made with elastic can help warm the area and increase circulation while reducing swelling.
3. NSAID Pain Relievers
NSAID stands for “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine.” Common NSAID pain relievers include aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve). These will reduce the pain and the swelling from the shin splints.
Be careful in taking too many NSAIDS on a regular basis. They can cause issues with the stomach as well as with the liver.
4. Special Orthotic Shoes or Soles
If you have ongoing problems with shin splints, it may be due to flat feet. Orthotic insoles or special orthotic shoes can help correct postural problems caused by flat feet. This in turn can help prevent and/or alleviate recurring shin splints.
You can get orthotic insoles and shoes direct from brick and mortar stores or online retailers such as Amazon.
If you have a serious issue with your feet, then you might want to see a professional podiatrist or orthopedic doctor to get checked out. Custom insoles can be created that can help your particular structural issues.
5. Get Rest When You Need It
Ideally, if you have shin splints, you will take some time off from putting any pressure or stress on your lower legs. Yes, this means you might have to take a few days off from your running routine.
In the greater scheme of things, this also means getting enough rest in general. Get the proper amount of sleep at night. Rest a bit after a strenuous workout. Balance your strenuous cardio workouts with some more relaxing physical activity such as gentle forms of hatha yoga or Tai Chi and Qigong.
6. Stay Hydrated and Maintain Electrolyte Imbalance
If you get dehydrated, your muscles and connective tissue will be starving for moisture and thus more likely to be inflamed and sore.
Additionally, electrolyte imbalance can also cause muscle cramps. Low potassium could potentially cause a cramp in the calf muscles and mimic or aggravate shin splints.
Electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade can help replenish your electrolytes after a sweaty workout. However, Gatorade does have a lot of added sugar.
Coconut water is an increasingly popular replacement for Gatorade, and it has a lot less sugar. However, it is much lower in sodium, which you need for electrolyte imbalance. Some people add salt to their coconut water to make it more suitable for an after work out electrolyte enhancer.
Have Recurring Shin Splints? Check with a Doctor
While shin splints are typically not something you need to worry too much about, if you get them on a regular basis, you might consider seeing a doctor.
You should see a doctor if they don’t seem to heal or just get worse and worse with time. It is possible you have a more serious problem such as micro-fractures in your tibia, aka your shin bone.
Stress fractures of the tibia can happen due to simple overuse, so do not rule out a fracture even if you did not have an accident.
You may also have tendinitis, which means inflammation of the tendons. If there is a partial tear in your tendon, then you may be required to follow your doctor’s advice in healing this.
These issues such as bone fractures or tendinitis can be diagnosed using an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) study.
Fortunately, none of these conditions are life threatening and can be easily treated.
Now You Know How to Get Rid of Shin Splints
Now that you know how to get rid of shin splints, you can avoid having this painful condition on a regular basis.
This is good news.
You can enjoy your workouts more and continue to get the benefits of exercise such as running.
Remember, your workout shoes should be replaced on a regular basis, so they maintain their protective qualities.
Stay hydrated, stretch, and don’t forget to cool down after your workout.