How To Deal With A Shin Splint

How To Deal With A Shin Splint

What is a Shin Splint?

A shin splint, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, is a common injury that causes pain along the shinbone (tibia) of the lower leg. It is often experienced by athletes, particularly runners, and is caused by repetitive stress on the shinbone and the connective tissues that attach muscles to the bone.

Symptoms of Shin Splints

The most common symptom of a shin splint is a sharp or dull pain along the shinbone. This pain may be felt during or after exercise, and can range from mild discomfort to severe pain that makes walking or running difficult. Other symptoms may include swelling, tenderness, and aching in the lower leg.

Causes of Shin Splints

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of shin splints. These include:

  • Overuse or repetitive stress on the shinbone
  • Running or jumping on hard surfaces
  • Wearing improper footwear
  • Flat feet or high arches
  • Tight calf muscles or weak shin muscles

Prevention of Shin Splints

While shin splints can be challenging to treat, there are several measures you can take to prevent them:

  • Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts
  • Wear proper footwear that provides adequate support and cushioning
  • Warm up before exercising and cool down afterwards
  • Strengthen the muscles in your legs through targeted exercises
  • Avoid running or jumping on hard surfaces whenever possible

Treatment for Shin Splints

If you are already experiencing shin splints, there are a few treatment options you can try:

  • Rest: Take a break from activities that worsen the pain and give your legs time to heal.
  • Ice: Apply ice packs to the affected area for 15-20 minutes several times a day to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  • Compression: Use compression bandages or sleeves to provide support and reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: Elevate your legs to reduce swelling and promote healing.
  • Pain Medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce pain and inflammation.

Exercises for Shin Splints

Once the pain subsides, you can start incorporating exercises to strengthen your legs and prevent future shin splints. Some recommended exercises include:

  • Calf Raises: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and raise your heels off the ground, then lower them back down. Repeat for 3 sets of 15 reps.
  • Toe Taps: Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground, then lift your toes up and down. Repeat for 3 sets of 15 reps.
  • Heel Walks: Walk on your heels for 5-10 minutes to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your shins.
  • Toe Raises: Stand with your weight on your heels and lift your toes off the ground, then lower them back down. Repeat for 3 sets of 15 reps.

When to See a Doctor

If your shin splints do not improve with rest and home remedies, or if the pain is severe and affecting your daily activities, it is recommended to see a doctor. They may recommend further treatment options such as physical therapy, orthotics, or imaging tests to rule out other potential causes of your pain.

FAQs about Shin Splints

Q: Can shin splints be caused by running on a treadmill?

A: Yes, running on a treadmill can contribute to the development of shin splints, especially if the surface is hard and there is inadequate cushioning.

Q: How long does it take for shin splints to heal?

A: The healing time for shin splints can vary depending on the severity of the injury and how well it is managed. In general, it can take several weeks to a few months for shin splints to fully heal.

Q: Are shin splints only caused by running?

A: While running is a common cause of shin splints, they can also be caused by other activities that involve repetitive stress on the lower legs, such as jumping, dancing, or sports like basketball or tennis.

Q: Can I still exercise with shin splints?

A: It is generally recommended to avoid activities that worsen the pain of shin splints until they have healed. However, low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling may be less likely to aggravate the condition.

Q: Do compression socks help with shin splints?

A: Compression socks or sleeves can help reduce swelling and provide support to the legs, which may alleviate symptoms of shin splints. However, they are not a substitute for rest and proper treatment.

Q: Are there any specific stretches for shin splints?

A: Yes, there are several stretches that can help relieve shin splint pain. Some examples include toe raises, toe taps, and heel walks. It is best to consult with a healthcare professional or physical therapist for personalized stretching recommendations.

Q: Can orthotic shoe inserts help with shin splints?

A: Orthotic shoe inserts or insoles can provide additional support and cushioning to the feet, which may help reduce the impact on the lower legs and alleviate shin splint symptoms. However, it is best to consult with a podiatrist for proper fitting and recommendations.

Q: Can flat feet cause shin splints?

A: Yes, having flat feet or high arches can contribute to the development of shin splints. These foot conditions can alter the distribution of weight and impact on the legs, increasing the risk of injury.

Q: Can I prevent shin splints by warming up before exercise?

A: Warming up before exercise can help prepare your muscles and joints for physical activity, reducing the risk of injury. Proper warm-up exercises can promote blood flow and flexibility, which may contribute to the prevention of shin splints.

Q: Can losing weight help prevent shin splints?

A: Excess body weight can put additional stress on the legs and increase the risk of shin splints. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) can help reduce the strain on the lower legs, potentially preventing future shin splints.


Shin splints can be a frustrating and painful condition, but with proper prevention and treatment, they can be managed effectively. It is important to listen to your body, rest when needed, wear appropriate footwear, and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. If your shin splints persist or worsen, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation and treatment options.

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