Severe Shin Splints: Managing Your Pain

If you’ve started a new running program or kicked up your miles a notch, you may end up with pain in your shins– leaving you stumbling around, reaching for those reliable bags of broccoli in your freezer for the inner shin relief that you need to continue. But is it wise to run through the pain that is shin splints, and what can you do to prevent these annoyances and roadblocks in your training plan? Read on to find some ways to deal with them and strategies for mitigating your shin splints altogether!

What Are Shin Splints, Anyway?

Shin splints, which informally refers to all the pain in the inside or outside of the shin, are caused by inflammation in your muscles. Because your muscles are wrapped so tightly in your legs and calves, when one gets inflamed or sore, it causes widespread pain. Shin splints tend to result when beginning runners start a running program, or when seasoned runners make a significant change, whether that be in mileage, hills versus flat surfaces, or shoes. When looking to reduce this inflammation, look the acronym RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

Resting Your Shins

Although starting a new running plan can be exciting, it is essential to take care of your body and include some rest days along the way. Although you can run through shin splints, in some cases, it is crucial that you take care of your body, first and foremost. Experts agree that it is vital to decrease or even stop running entirely when the shin splints strike, for the best chance of recovery.

Icing Those Shins 

Another essential treatment to consider for shin splints in ice. Even though doctors and running experts will often prescribe ice for shin splints, runners often overlook this method of reducing inflammation in the affected area. Ice is best applied for around 20 minutes every two to four hours for the best results. When you sit down to ice your shins (or any other injury,) make sure to lay a cloth between the ice pack and your skin to prevent ice burns.

Compression and Elevation: If You Must Run on Them 

If you have caught the running bug to the point where you are unwilling to stop running, wrap your shins and ankles with compression sleeves, bandages, or athletic tape to give your legs some support. The compression should bind the tendons against the skin to prevent stress. The second you get off the treadmill or home from your run, ice your shins (see above)! Elevating your shins when you ice them also proves effective at reducing inflammation, which will also reduce pain! Taking an NSAID, like acetaminophen, should help reduce some of the pain as well.

Future Shin Splints

To quit getting shin splints in the future, consider only increasing your mileage by 10 percent per week, getting a scan to determine your foot shape. When you know your foot shape, you can buy and wear shoes for optimal support, which in many cases, eliminates shin splints.

Have you ever struggled with shin splints or another running injury, or have tips on how to deal with and treat these ailments? Let us know in the comments below!

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