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Shin Splints

How can I treat and prevent shin splints?

Shin splints will usually require at least a couple weeks of rest from the activity that caused them. Low-impact exercise, such as swimming or cycling, can keep you active during this time while your shins recover. Ice, compression, and over-the-counter pain relievers can also provide relief from the pain and swelling.

Wearing supportive shoes can also be an important way to prevent shin splints. Worn-out shoes can place undue stress on your feet and shins. By choosing footwear or insoles with appropriate cushioning can lessen this stress. Prescription or over-the-counter orthotics can also be used, and may be especially helpful for those with flat feet. By supporting and stabilizing the foot, they can reduce stress on the shin and lower leg.

Barefoot running is also thought to help with preventing shin splints by reducing the impact on the muscles on your feet and legs. Taping is another method used to treat and prevent shin splints. This can help reduce the stress on your shin tissues by providing support to relax the muscles surrounding your tibia.

Flexibility and strengthening exercises are also an important part of treatment and prevention for this condition. Try some of the following exercises, that work to stretch out your lower legs:

  • Calf stretch:

    Standing in front of a wall, lean forward with one foot in front of the other, toes facing forwards, and feet hip distance apart. Place your hands on the wall and try to straighten your back leg, reaching your heel towards the floor. Keep your front leg bent and hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 3 times for each leg.

  • Seated shin stretch:

    Kneel down on the ground to sit on your heels. Lean backwards, placing your palms on the ground behind you. You should feel this stretch in the front of your legs. Hold for 30 seconds, and then release. Repeat 3 times.

  • Toe raises:

    Standing with your feet on the ground, slowly lift the toes and arch of one of your feet up into the air, as high as possible. You should keep your heel planted firmly on the ground. Hold for a couple of seconds and then release. Repeat 20 times, performing 2-3 sets. If you find this aggravates your shins, don’t overdo it.

Remember that when you do begin exercising, you should warm-up beforehand to prevent developing shin splints. If you begin feeling pain in your shins again, you should stop this activity and rest for several days, using ice compresses on your shins. You should reduce the intensity, duration, or frequency of your training even more when you next begin exercising. Cross-training with lower impact sports can also help reduce the stress on your feet and legs.