Whether you like to run, play basketball, or stomp your feet when you don’t get your way, the pain caused by shin splints can force you to the sidelines. So if you experience the telltale nagging pain in legs, you’ll want to know how to cure your shin splints ASAP.
Shin splints — or medial tibial stress syndrome, if you want to be all sciencey — occur when too much force is repeatedly placed on nearby connective tissue. (How much is too much depends on the person.) And while we know you’re obviously enough of a badass to play through the pain, we still suggest you try these remedies.
You don’t need to be bedridden, but you should refrain from activities that require repetitive impact on hard surfaces or involve the same muscles as running. Try biking, swimming, or running in the shallow end of a pool if you’re one of those guys who can’t sit still.
• ELEVATE YOUR LEGS
When you’re just sitting around, elevate your shins elevated above your heart and take anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin to reduce swelling. It’s tough to do at work without looking like a lazy ass, but try to sneak it before and after work if you can.
• ICE YOUR SHINS
Icing an injury is almost always a good idea since the cold constricts blood vessels and reduces inflammation. Try to ice your shins for 10-15 minutes up to four times a day, and be sure to do it after stretching or exercising. To prevent your skin from feeling like it’s being iced with napalm, always wrap the ice in a towel or washcloth.
• USE COMPRESSION
Use an elastic bandage or compression sleeve to apply pressure to the injured area. But if the pain gets worse, the area becomes numb, or your foot starts turning blue, loosen the wrap. Duh.
• STRETCH YOUR LEGS
Stretching the muscles of your lower legs will help build new collagen, speed repair, and strengthen and increase flexibility — all of which will make you less susceptible to shin splints.
• CHOOSE THE RIGHT RUNNING SHOES
Your shoes need to fit your foot type. If you overpronate, you have flat feet that roll inward more than 15 percent. If you underpronate, the heel makes initial contact with the ground but the inward movement of the foot occurs at less than 15 percent. And if your shoes are old and worn and smelly, you should get rid of them for the sake of others around you and because they’ve most likely lost their ability to control the rotation of your foot and absorb shock.
• RUN ON SOFT SURFACES
Running on concrete or asphault can cause and aggravate shin splints. So if possible, choose grass, dirt, or bouncy castles.
• SUPPORT YOUR ARCHES
Along with well-cushioned shoes that fit your foot type, arch supports and orthotics help soften and disperse the stress on your shinbones. Try the relatively inexpensive off-the-shelf ones at pharmacies or Target. If they don’t cut it, you may need to head to a podiatrist for orthotics made from casts of your feet.