In part one, we covered the best ways to prevent shin splints from happening! If you’re looking for treatment that’s a must read to ensure you don’t get them again once you’ve learned how to get rid of shin splints in this article.
If it’s too late for preventative measures and you’re feeling that dull ache (or sharp pain) along the sides of your shin…don’t fret. You’re not going to be laid up forever, but you do need to focus on recovering, not powering through the pain.
If you already have shin splints, here are several go-to remedies to help you recover quickly and safely.
When it comes to how to get rid of shin splints for the long haul, you’ll find there are some initial steps to eliminate pain and some long term things to keep them from recurring.
1. Ice or heat for shin splints?
The main symptom of shin splints is inflammation, so your goal is to reduce that inflammation with cold. Because shin splints are an injury, not a condition, the goal is to reduce inflammation by constricting the blood flow. Icing the calf muscles is a good way to do this and it helps to temporarily numb your pain as well. Ice in 20-minute intervals on and off to reduce the sting when they first start. After that you might find relief via the heating pad to relax the muscles and release tension.
Remember, ice is for acute injuries (sprains, strains and sudden bouts of inflammation—case in point) and heat is for chronic injuries and issues like arthritis.
2. Should I use anti-inflammatory medications?
Another way to reduce the inflammation and the associated discomfort is to ask your doctor about starting a regimen of anti-inflammatory medication. I’m a huge fan of using natural things like turmeric and fish oil (see my whole post on beating inflammation!!)
BUT, an important word of caution before you pop the pills: if you take this route and find pain relief, DO NOT get lulled into a false sense of comfort. First there are some major complications that come from running on pain relievers (read this before you do it) and second it’s easy to over do it if you mask the pain.
Your injury still needs time to heal, even if it feels much better.
3. How good is rest as a true shin splints treatment?
Rest, rest, rest.
We want to power through and push ourselves, but skipping out on rest means setting yourself up for a myriad of problems. Just as rest is vital for the prevention of shin splints, it’s even MORE crucial for recovery. (sorry I know this is the tip we all prefer to skip over!)
AND I’ll be honest for lots of injuries like the IT Band, I don’t think rest is the cure all…but here it helps, a lot.
If you don’t take a break, your shin splints will never go away and could even become a chronic problem derailing your running for a long time. There are many reasons you might want to run through the pain, but in this case, rest is needed.
Here’s how to get through that down time, like I did with knee surgery! DO other things like LIFTING! Get stronger to come back stronger.
4. Do compression sleeves work?
Okay, I love compression gear. The act of compressing reduces the waste of energy by maintaining body alignment and reducing muscle movement. Compression also increases blood flow (which is why people with circulatory conditions use compression socks).
Using compression socks or sleeves over your calf muscles will ensure ample blood flow to the injured areas. You will feel more supported during movement. As you can see, I wear them especially on race day where my calves need extra support, but for you they might be just what your shins need on that day of pushing the pace.
BONUS: I’ve become a massive fan of KT Tape since my knee injury last year and I’ve heard great things from runners who have tried it for shin splints as well. There are a variety of ways to tape depending on the cause and where you are feeling the pain most. Here is a good video to get you started.
5. Do orthotics help with shin splints?
There are a number of different types of orthotics and insoles to help nurse your shins while they recover. I am not one to make this a first recommendation, as I think we can resolve most issues with strengthening other areas of our body, BUT they are a great solution when other things are not working.
Orthotics are particularly helpful for people with flat feet, who may face more incidents of shin splints. The cushioning and arch support assists with pronation (feet that roll inward during foot strike) and supination (foot strike on the outer edge of the foot) which may also exacerbate your shin splints.
There are an array of orthotics to choose from. Some of them go directly into your shoes while others attach to the leg and/or knee. Try the thinnest and least invasive type first and work up as needed.
Use these shin splints treatment ideas and know: there’s hope! You aren’t doomed to suffer in pain forever, but don’t ignore the problem. Deal with your shin splits now so you can get back on the road healthy and pain-free!
Any other great tips you have to help others, please share!
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