Article by livestrong.com, Recommended by Taylor Biblo, Wellness Outreach Team
Many runners and other athletes experience shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome. This painful condition occurs when overuse, improper footwear or running on hard surfaces causes muscles and tendons in your lower leg to move beyond their natural range of motion and pull on the tibia bone along the shin. You can recover from shin splints by taking certain steps to remove the source of pain, ease the pain and avoid a recurrence of the condition.
You must rest your legs to begin your recovery from shin splints. As soon as you feel pain in your shins, stop running and avoid any high-impact exercise, including running, dancing, hiking, stair-climbing or playing competitive sports, for two to three days. Stay fit with low-impact exercise such as swimming or biking while your legs recover. Return to running and other high-impact exercises gradually once your legs have fully healed.
While you let your legs recover, you can ease the pain with certain home remedies. Ice packs applied to the area for 15 to 20 minute at a time can help heal the shins, according to shin splints treatment information published on MayoClinic.com. Protect your skin by wrapping ice packs in thin paper towels before placing them on your shins. Elevate your legs whenever you can to help reduce swelling. If your shin splints cause you intense pain that keeps you from performing daily tasks, consider taking over-the-counter pain medicine such as aspirin or ibuprofen. If the pain makes walking difficult, use crutches for a day or two.
Prevent shin splints in the future by addressing the problems that might have caused them this time. If you have been wearing worn out running shoes or shoes that don’t provide proper support, purchase a new pair of shoes. Runners should replace their shoes regularly, about every 250 to 500 miles, according to MayoClinic.com. Consider adding arch supports to the shoes if you have flat feet. If you suspect that you have unusually shaped feet and might need a special kind of shoes, consult a podiatrist for a recommendation.
Stretching and strength training can help you increase the flexibility and strength of your lower leg muscles and tendons. Stronger, suppler muscles will have a wider natural range of motion and will be less likely to pull against the tibia bone during exercise.
Perform calf raises to strengthen your calves. Rise up on your toes and return your heels to the ground gradually. Repeat this exercise in sets of 10. Perform heel raises to strengthen the muscles at the front of your lower leg, including the tibialis anterior. Have a friend hold your feet down while you rise up on your heels, lifting your toes against the resistance. Stretch your calves by leaning into a wall with one foot forward and one foot behind you. Keep the back leg straight to stretch the upper calf, or bend it slightly to stretch the lower calf. Stretch the tibialis anterior by kneeling with your toes pointing behind you and sitting gently on your heels.