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What can I do to heal Shin Splints?

Question: What can I do to heal Shin Splints?


What I've done to heal shin splints is such:

Take a large pail that goes up to your knee.

Fill it with water, just so that it doesn't spill when entire leg is submerged.

Fill water with ice, and let chill until very cold.

Submerge entire leg into water, and keep in 15 minutes.

You can take breaks for a little while, but be sure to have a total of 15 minutes.

It'll be cold, but shin splints can damage a runner's career if left untreated. I've had them during the conditioning days of football, and it sucked.


You need to get an accurate diagnosis of where your shin pain is coming from. Despite many medical practitioners lack of insight to move forwards, shin splints can no longer be considered a diagnosis as it does not describe what is occuring to create in your pain.

Without more information I can't fully assess your situation... however, shin pain is most usually from one of three conditions.

1) Possibly most common is medial tibial stress syndrome - this is when the muscles attaching the inner part of the shin "pull" against the lining of the bone (periosteum) and so the periosteum gets inflamed. This can also be made worse by excess stress through the tibial (i.e. poor biomechanics when running etc). Usually worse at start of activity, then eases as you warm up and then worsens after activity. This requires relative rest, assessment of biomechanical issues that may cause excess stress through you shin (foot pronation, knee and hip allignment etc), potentially some orthotics. As previously posted symptomatic relief may be gained through icing, as well as the other usual first-line pain relief activities.

2) Chronic compartment syndrome- (not to be confused with an acute compatment syndrome which is completely different). This is when the muscles surrounding the shin have become disproportionally hypertrophic and therefore under exercising conditions will "expand" without the connective tissue surrounding them doing the same. This connective tissue (fascia) then restricts the muscle, nerve and blood vessels causing a tightening/ cramping pain. This usually gets worse after a period of exercise and continues to get worse until you physically have to stop. When you stop exercising the pain usually goes away relatively quickly. Management is typically - stretching for gastroc, soleus, tibialis anterior; massage or myofascial release for the tight compartment fascia; assessment of vascular comprimise; and in severe cases potential fasciotomy surgery.

3) The other potential injury is a tibial or fibula stress fracture. Sometimes described with night pain, when bad it hurts to walk (as opposed to running like the medial tibial stress syndrome from above) and often has a local very painful point on the shin that hurts to press. These conditions require definite rest from stress, a likely orthopaedic opinion - potentially an air cast boot for a while and orthopaedic management

There are other things that is can be but these are your typical three. My advice would be to seek professional assessment to make sure it is a simple case of medial tibial stress syndrome and that it can be dealt with conservatively. In which case I would then request a biomechanical assessment, work on your landing technique (to disperse stress/impact attenuation), potetially look into some orthotics, do lots of calf and shin stretches, work on your proprioception and balance and finally use ice, rest compression elevation to control the symptoms if you over-do it whilst you are rehabilitating yourself.


Apply ice over the painful area

Ice treatments are globally accepted to be the simplest, safest and most immediate measure to relieve pain, reduce internal bleeding and bruising, and control swelling in injured tissues.

There are a number of instant ice-pack products available on the market but ice cubes wrapped in a wet towel are just as effective. It’s important not to place ice, or even a bag of frozen peas, directly onto your skin as this may result in an ‘ice burn’ but a wet towel provides adequate protection.

Provided you have no broken areas of skin, ice treatments can safely be applied every hour or every other hour during the first day or two after the injury, depending on the amount of pain or swelling involved. Anything from five up to ten minutes at a time will be helpful but it largely depends on your ability to tolerate the cold. The ice treatment has been effective if your skin has turned pink, or darkened if you are dark-skinned, before you stop.

Shin splints