Are you sick to death of suffering shin pain every time you go for a run? Desperate to know how to get rid of shin splints, right?
Let me go on a tangent for a second. You may not have thought about this before, but did you realize that your body is nature’s pinnacle of engineering? It has been flawlessly designed, structured and then refined over millions of years. It’s difficult to appreciate the full complexity of it.
Yet, we simply carry on living our lives. While behind the scenes, thousands of actions are taking place simultaneously for every move we make. And why should we bother paying any attention to something that operates so seamlessly?
It would seem pointless to focus our attention on any one particular action if there are no problems, right?
As the saying goes, “If it aint broke, don’t fix it!”
And this holds true for how we automatically treat our bodies. Actually...
"The only time we tend to learn anything about our bodies is when something goes wrong or doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to."
Shin splints is a perfect example of this idea. Your legs are not responding the way you're used to. Now you need to know how to get rid of shin splints.
Of course, your legs are obviously one of the most commonly used structures of your body. Because of this, learning how to get rid of shin splints is a common issue among all types of athletes.
In fact, some statistics suggest that at least 75% of runners will experience some sort of lower leg injury or pain during their career! And of those, shin splints is the most common.
So if you're worried about being in the minority of people looking for shin splints treatment, you're definitely not alone.
In fact, one of the biggest myths about shin splints is that it’s an incurable and permanent condition. Please don’t buy into this mindset!
Like any other part of your body, you have the power to heal yourself and upgrade “your system.” Learning how to get rid of shin splints permanently can be done. And although a real commitment is required, it’s certainly not beyond you, I can promise you that much.
So in order to give yourself the best opportunity possible, I have summarized how to get rid of shin splints in 6 easy to follow steps to get you back on track to enjoying the sports you love, totally pain free.
How To Get Rid Of Shin Splints - Step #1: Understand Shin Splints
What Are Shin Splints?
When we talk about shin splints, it doesn’t represent an actual medical condition in itself. Rather it is an umbrella term for a set of conditions that affect the lower leg. The most common forms of shin splints include Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS), Anterior Tibial Tendonitis and Tibial Stress Fracture (TSF).
Diagnose Your Injury
If you're serious about learning how to get rid of shin splints, your first step should be diagnose your injury. To help you with this I have developed a Diagnosis Quiz, which you can complete by clicking here.
So now you have a good idea of what type of injury you've sustained. It's easy now to apply targeted shin splints treatment. Next, it's important to understand the composition of the muscles, tendons and ligaments involved. This way you can learn how to get rid of shin splints effectively by implementing the correct treatment techniques (refer to my article on shin splints treatment methods). You can also then refer to suitable exercises that won't put you at risk of further injury.
Attempting to figure out how to get rid of shin splints, people often dive blindly into stretches and exercises. Most of the time no idea about the effect they might have on their particular injury.
Is It Really Shin Splints?
It’s also important to be able to tell the difference between the onset of shin splints and muscle fatigue. Muscle fatigue normally disappears not long after exercise.
For new athletes, it's easy to be confused between shin splints and delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
DOMS usually occurs due to a lack of a proper cool down after exercise. The reason being your heart rate is still up and the blood pools in your larger muscles. This is what gives you that aching feeling 2-3 days after exercise.
With time and experience, you'll be able to tell the difference between DOMS and early signs of shin splints. Then you’ll be able to interact before the injury becomes severe.
How To Get Rid Of Shin Splints - Step #2: Identify The Root Cause
A major problem with shin splints is that there are heaps of ways to get them. Although methods exist to temporarily mask the pain, if we look deeper the root cause still exists. Therefore the return of shin splints will be inevitable. To uproot the problem, you need to undertake an analysis by asking yourself the following 6 questions.
Question #1: What’s my Body Mass Index (BMI) and am I overweight?
A research study conducted at the University of Groningen included 334 athletes with a BMI of 25 or higher. The objective of the study was to explore the relation between BMI and the risk of lower leg injuries.
The results were interesting. The percentage of lower leg injuries among overweight runners (BMI > 25 or more) was significantly higher. 25% of the overweight athletes suffered lower leg injuries, compared to only 15% of the normal weight runners.
So when it comes to learning how to get rid of shin splints, weight can certainly play a factor. This can be a problem for a lot of people because they are running to try to lose weight! However, this just means that those new athletes will need to pursue lower impact exercise to begin with.
Question #2: What are the shape of my feet and do they affect the way I run?
The foot arches act as springs and absorb most of the impact.
Without the help of foot arches (flat feet), the force of impact travels back into your legs. This in-turn puts extra strain on your legs and muscles.
Question #3: Am I wearing the right type of shoes for my running style and type of foot?
More often than not, a new pair of running shoes that fits the contour of your foot properly will help. They can provide you with enough cushioning and additional support for your lower legs. Better still, not only can they relieve the pain, they can also prevent the symptoms from getting worse.
That’s why choosing the right kind of shoe is critical when it comes to figuring out how to get rid of shin splints. For help selecting the right type of shoe, get a FREE copy of my Shoe Selection Guide (Value $9.95) by clicking here.
Question #4: Where am I running most of the time and is the terrain having an impact on my shins?
Another important factor to consider when it comes to learning how to get rid of shin splints is terrain.
Each type of surface has a different level of support when it comes to cushioning your landing. Any surface that doesn’t overwork your leg muscles, bones, and tendons can be labelled as a shin splint friendly surface.
Question #5: What’s my running technique like and have I ever been taught?
Whether you get shin splints or not can be heavily dependent on your running technique. Something as simple as a small change in running technique can save you from a lot of trouble.
Running techniques include variables such as your body posture while running and the force you use to drive your motion. More variables include the movement of your arms and hands, the landing of your feet and frequency of steps.
Also, if you haven’t exercised in a long time, you’d be shocked at how inflexible your calves and ankles have become.
The truth is, to be able to walk properly without the risk of injury you need around 15 degrees of dorsiflexion (toes pointing up). When walking quickly or running you'll need even more flexibility than this. Otherwise your legs will compensate at other joints exposing you to potential leg injuries, especially shin splints.
Question #6: How strong are my legs and do I regularly work them harder than normal daily activity?
Most people don’t realize that their legs are finely tuned in to suit their environment and level of activity. And for a big portion, this doesn’t always include much physical exercise.
This can be problematic when they start running or some other form of sport. Especially without gradually increasing duration and intensity, because their legs are just not conditioned to that level yet. And depending on how long they persist, they are at a higher level of risk of getting shin splints.
Take your time in answering the above questions and really think about your response. Then you can filter down to the potential problem areas. Once identified, you can address each problem individually by either making a change, substitution or even better, elimination.
How To Get Rid Of Shin Splints - Step #3: Consider Using Accessories
It is possible to figure out how to get rid of shin splints without aids. However, a lot of the time certain accessories can make the process easier and more convenient for you. In some cases, they can even fast-track the process.
What About Orthotic Inserts?
In this day and age, most people automatically assume that orthotics are the only solution. For starters, I must admit that orthotic inserts can certainly offer some temporary relief for most people. Particularly those who have problems with ankle roll during the landing phase. This is achieved by bringing back the foot strike to a more neutral position instead of supinated or pronated.
This is mainly because, the initial root cause was weak or inactive lower leg muscles.
However, there is a major problem with using them as a long term solution. They can be detrimental to your overall muscle composition. In other words, they'll condition your legs so that you'll never be able to run again without them. Or at least not without a major transformation.
Moreover, those weak lower leg muscles will only end up weaker due to lack of use. With that said however, orthotics definitely have a place within the rehabilitation phase of the treatment process.
Get A Moonboot!
And no, we are not talking about outer space here. Another aid you might want to look in to is a brace of some sort to help with the healing process.
Basically they act as a support for your lower leg while walking to prevent any awkward or harmful movements. Most of the time these are reserved for the more severe injuries and generally you can get by without one.
If you want to create more variation in your stretching routine, then get a resistance band. I can’t stress enough how handy these are when it comes to rehabilitation!
Other accessories that you might want to look into also include compression socks or sleeves. Also a foam roller to help with self-massage techniques.
How To Get Rid Of Shin Splints - Step #4: Fast Track Your Recovery
Too get back to pain free running in the quickest time possible, you’ll need to be doing everything right. Particularly without any deviation or jump-starting back into high intensity activity too early.
I know as well as anybody how tempting it can be to start running again. Or join in with your mates playing sport. Normally when your pain levels have decreased to a level where you can join in. However, 9 times out of 10 it’s just not worth it. Because you’re at a much higher risk of exposing yourself to more pain and suffering.
The key attribute you need to exhibit when it comes to recovery is patience! Especially when learning how to avoid shin splints.
Looking at the bigger picture, in most cases a full recovery can be achieved in less than 30 days anyway! So what’s the point in re-triggering your injury and having to start all over again?!!
Rest is underrated...
If you’re just starting out, then it's crucial that you include regular rest days in between exercising. It’s quite natural to feel excited and motivated at the early stages of your routine. But don’t be tempted to go at it everyday. You’ll soon burn out or lose your enthusiasm relatively quickly.
Without recovery time, your body will act as a feedback mechanism by showing early signs of shin splints. And if you haven’t developed an awareness of these initial signs and keep going, you could be looking at hefty time on the sidelines.
So if you’re sitting there, wishing you’d read this beforehand, don't worry. You’re not out of luck just yet. When it comes to learning how to get rid of shin splints you have two options straight off the bat.
Deal with swelling and inflammation first...
Option one is that you let the swelling come down naturally on its own. This can take quite some time and often leads to longer time on the sidelines. Or you have option two. Use ice and anti-inflammation to reduce the swelling.
Apply some compression...
Once the swelling has subsided you can begin to use compression at intervals throughout the day. This helps increase blood flow to the damaged tissues. You can also use special massage techniques that can offer relief from pain and decrease your recovery time.
For a complete guide check out my article 16 Killer Tips For Rapid Shin Splints Treatment!
How To Get Rid Of Shin Splints - Step #5: Diet And Supplements
Believe it or not, in most cases of shin splints you''ll actually need to increase your intake of calories.
This may come as a shock to some. Because it goes against what their mind is telling them deep inside. Thoughts like “I can’t exercise, so I better watch what I eat” are total misconceptions. And although it might be true that you'll need more energy than normal to recover, this doesn’t mean that you can go off on a fast food eating binge!
You should be eating a diet consisting of lean proteins, healthy carbohydrates, a mix of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. And don't forget some natural herbs and spices.
When it comes to taking over-the-counter medications, you shouldn’t be consuming copious amounts just because it hurts. Always follow the directions on the packaging and never take them for prolonged periods. The effects of prolonged use of some medications can actually be detrimental to your recovery and will keep you out of action for longer.
So with this in mind...
It’s a good idea to alternate medications with gels, creams and other natural alternatives.
There are several other supplements that will help with various aspects of shin splints. These supplements not only provide temporary relief from symptoms like pain, inflammation, and swelling, but also speed up the healing process.
Some supplements that you might want to include in your routine include a good brand quality multi-vitamin, fish oil and vitamin D.
How To Get Rid Of Shin Splints - Step #6: How To Avoid Shin Splints
As they say, “prevention is better than a cure!” And this holds true for shin splints as well. Lets have a look at some ways you can keep those nasty shin splints at bay.
One of the biggest contributing factors to shin splints is lack of flexibility.
In fact the calf muscles and other supporting muscles and tendons are so notorious for shortening over time. Without proper use, you probably wouldn’t believe how inflexible you actually are!
Due to this lack of flexibility your legs tend to compensate at other joints such as your knees, ankles and forefeet. This in-turn puts excessive pressure on your lower legs. To counter this, it’s critical that you are stretching regularly within your exercise routine.
Build Strong Legs
You should also be engaging in regular strengthening exercises to build up those supporting muscles. You want to give yourself the best opportunity to get rid of shin splints permanently. Checkout my article Discover How To Enjoy Pain Free Running By Doing Shin Splint Stretches THE RIGHT WAY With These 4 Simple Steps. You'll learn which muscle groups you should be focusing on building up.
It’s an awesome feeling once you're up and running again. However, it’s just not worth the risk of pounding the pavement every time you head out. Try changing it up once in awhile and jump on a bike, rower or elliptical machine. Give your legs a well-earned rest from the high impact of running.
It’s important that you keep a water bottle with you while running and sip on water frequently. You should also drink adequate amounts of water throughout the day. You may need between 3 to 5 liters of water daily depending on the level of your physical activity. The temperature of the area you live in also needs consideration.
Lastly, look into other areas of your running that you could improve on efficiency. Analyze your running technique, running surface, type and condition of shoe and most importantly get some rest in between exercise! Most of the time, the symptoms of shin splints will go away with care and rest.
Shin splints can be extremely painful and frustrating, yet they are also highly curable – you should always remember that. In addition to following the instructions laid out in this article, the ability to heal truly lies in your head. If you can form the will power needed to stay focused and follow a definite plan then nothing will get in your way of a full recovery. Simply stay determined and positive and you’ll be back to pain free running in no time!
I’m still personally applying the techniques mentioned in this article as a way of keeping shin splints at bay – permanently! And I’m achieving amazing results in the process!
I know we’ve covered a tonne of information here, but honestly we’ve barely scratched the surface! So take the first step now and diagnose your injury with my FREE Online Diagnosis Quiz below.
And if you have any questions, thoughts or comments I would love to hear them! Just leave a comment below…
To Your Happy & Healthy Future…