All foot injuries and other leg related issues suck in general. You can deal with a nagging pain in your finger or arm but not your foot. When you get shin splints it affects almost everything and makes you uncomfortable.
In this post you’ll find a number of methods you can use to treat shin splints if they occur.
*Note: It’s always best to check with your PT or doctor when you experience any kind of serious pain. The following information was researched to provide you with alternative options. These options do not replace visiting your PT or doctor. The information is practical and educational as well. So you won’t find recommendations for weird suggestions like putting apple cider vinegar on your legs. Let’s leave the quacking to the ducks.
How Do You Get Rid Of Shin Splints?
These shin splint treatments aren’t restricted to just runners. People can develop shin splints in many ways but the treatment doesn’t change much. You don’t need to be an athlete for them to work.
The other ways in which you can treat shin splints are:
If you’ve just started to experience shin splints from walking or running, then resting your legs may help the situation. It may sound simple but even your doctor or PT might recommend it depending on your situation.
You should know that resting doesn’t mean taking a day off to recover and then going right back to running. You may be required to suspend your runs for a few day or weeks. And once you are ready to return from your rehab period, it would be best to take things slowly and build up to where you were pre-injury.
Don’t think of resting as messing up your mojo. It’s better to miss a few days or weeks to ensure your legs keep functioning years from now.
Pick any of your favorite athletes and you’ll notice they all have one thing in common. The ones who are serious about their bodies usually take ice-baths.
Does that mean they all have shin splints? Absolutely not! It just proves that their medical staff is well aware of what needs to be done to keep these athletes at peak performance.
Icing is a very old method of treatment and using it for shin splints can be effective. You can grab an ice pack, wrap some ice in a towel or put it in a plastic bag, then put it on your shin. This will help to reduce any swelling as well as relieve tightness in the inflamed tissue. Simply elevate your leg, either on a chair or couch, and place the bag of ice on it for about 15-20 minutes.
If you’ve read this post, you should have an idea of some of the causes of shin splints. One of the biggest causes is poor mechanics or alignment of your body – specifically your feet.
In most cases you may need to consult a trainer or PT to correct the alignment problem. They will use a variety of techniques to help you retrain your body, rebuild your running motion and strengthen your weak areas. These techniques may include the following:
1. Foam Rolling
Foam rollers are effective at relieving certain types of pain. When it comes to shin splints, you can expect more of the same.
To being loosening those tight muscles sit on the floor and place one of your legs on the foam roller. Position the foam roller near your calf. Now you can roll your calf over it slowly in a back and forth motion. You should repeat this 3 times for about 30-60 seconds on the affected leg.
When you are finished rolling your calves, position your shin (or shins) over the foam roller. You will be lying on your stomach in this position. Do the same thing as before by rolling your shins over the foam in a back and forth motion. Repeat this 3 times for about 30-60 seconds for one or both shins.
If you don’t already own one, you should consider purchasing one. They are relatively inexpensive and can be used for multiple stretch exercises.
Alternatively, you can also substitute a tennis ball in place of a foam roller.
2. Modified Calf Raise
You can perform this technique by simply standing with your feet close together. Push yourself up onto your toes so it looks like you’re wearing 6-inch heels. Once you’ve pushed yourself as high as you can go, lower yourself slowly back to the ground. Perform this exercise 3 times doing 10 reps each.
If you want a deeper stretch, you can stand with your toes on the edge of a chair, table or stairway. Just be careful not to overextend yourself as this can injure your calf muscles.
3. Heel & Toe Walk
A good way to strengthen your lower leg and foot is by walking on your heels and toes. Walk around on your toes for about 30 seconds then switch to walking around on your heels for another 30 seconds. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
4. Resistance Band Stretches
Basketball players, golfers, ballet dancers, and many more athletes use resistance bands. They use it to increase the strength and stability in their feet as well as their ankles. Similar to foam rollers, these are one of those pieces of equipment that are actually worth purchasing.
To perform this stretch, you’d begin by tying one end of the resistance band to a post. Next, you’ll wrap the open end around the arch of your foot and pull the band away from the post. It is somewhat of an in-and-out motion as you can see below. This exercise should be done in sets of 3, each with 10-15 reps.
5. Balancing Exercises
Do you remember the funny things you did as a kid? This exercise will probably bring back those memories. To do this exercise, start by standing on one leg. For your raised leg, keep your knee and hip slightly flexed. This is also an exercise that uses your core muscles for stability. Perform this exercise 3 times on each leg, and hold the position as long as you can each time or until your muscles get tired.
Once you start getting great at improving your balance, you can try standing on chair or stability pad for a bit more of a challenge.
If you’ve ever done the P90X workout, you should have an idea of what plyometrics is. Don’t be scared, you won’t be doing anything close to the P90X workout. These are simple exercises you can start to do once your shin splints are no longer painful.
Plyometrics increase your strength and improve your mechanics. You’re basically going to be doing a lot of jumping around here. But unlike the senseless bouncing you might do in a bouncy castle or Skrillex concert, this one is different. In fact it might even make the castle and concert experience so much more effortless on your legs.
So how do you get rid of shin splints using plyometrics? Simple. You must focus on the landing and not the jumping part. This technique develops your ability to absorb the landing using your core, hips, knees, ankles and feet. That may sound like a lot but all of those body parts work in unison to keep you upright. You can jump up and down for 3 sets of 10 reps each. Remember to focus on the landing and not the jump itself. You’ll be as agile as a cat in no time!
As mentioned before, shin splints can put you out of commission for a few days or weeks. By using some of these advance techniques, you can help to improve your recovery times. Compression socks are already one option but another type that’s being used often is taping.
Taping can even be used after you’ve gotten rid of your shin splints. There are three ways this can be used to help to treat shin splints:
Navicular Taping: This helps to reposition your foot so that it reduces stress throughout the walking or running motion. Leukotape is applied to the area between the heel and the arch of the foot. The following video shows how this technique can be used.
Video Courtesy of CoreActive Therapy
Kinesiology Taping: If you’re a basketball fan you may have probably seen players wearing kinesio tape. Players like James Harden wear it all the time. This is because kinesio tape has more elasticity than others and it doesn’t affect your range of motion. The following video shows how kinesio tape is used for shin splints.
Video Courtesy of Iain Langstone & CCRC Physical Therapy
Arch Taping: If you have flat feet or weakened lower-leg muscle strength, you may be prone to shin splints. Arch taping can help to relieve these problems and some people find it to be a better option than orthotics. This may because crap like Dr. Scholl’s doesn’t do anything for people with significant shin splint issues. Check out the video below to see how arch-taping works.
Many times people ask, “How do you get rid of shin splints?” Usually the best treatment is rest, improved mechanics and wearing proper shoes. In this post you’ve discovered several ways to treat shin splints. These are not the only options for preventing shin splints. There are other methods that can be used.
If you think that your shin splints may be more serious, it’s best to visit your doctor or PT and get a proper evaluation. They might suggest some of these options or they may recommend something different. The bottom line is that you should always do everything you can to protect your feet and body.