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Video:How to Treat Shin Splints

with Jonathon E. Stewart

Combat the number one enemy of running and walking: the dreaded shin splint. We'll show you how to treat shin splints effectively.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Treat Shin Splints

Walking and running are great forms of exercise. Not only do they keep you in great cardiovascular shape, they let you experience the great outdoors and work out without a bunch of equipment. Just make sure you're prepared for one of these activities' most common injuries, the dreaded shin splint.

What Are Shin Splints?

"Shin splints" is a colloquial term for a condition called Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, or MTSS for short, in which overworked or fatigued muscles start to pull against the tibia and fibula, the bones that make up your lower leg. Under continued stress, these muscles' tendons may begin to tear away from the point where they attach to these bones.

Nothing like a good tendon tear to ground your running or walking routine. But, like many things, the best treatment for shin splints is a healthy dose of proper prevention.

Step One: Wear Good Shoes

Improper bio-mechanical movement is one of the major causes of shin splints, and one of the major causes of improper bio-mechanical movement is inadequate or worn-out footware. Choose a shoe that supports your mid-sole, and works in synch with your natural stride. Buying shoes at a store dedicated to runners' and walkers' needs is the best way to determine what shoe is best for you. So be sure to think twice before taking a spin in your favorite strappy shoes or sandals. Remember, it only takes a pop-top to blow out a flip-flop.

Step Two: Warm Up

Cold, stiff muscles and tendons are far more likely than softer, warmed up ones to sustain injury. Take a good 5-10 minutes prior to any vigorous exercise to do some slow walking, and be sure to stretch your calf muscles by doing wall lunges, toe pulls, or toe-up Achilles stretches.

You might also enjoy air-drawing the alphabet with your toes a couple times a day. Strengthening these key muscles is another great way to prevent injury.

Step Three: Remember RICE

If, in spite of your best efforts, you do find you're experiencing prolonged pain in your lower legs either during or after exercise, take these healing measures. Rest––be sure to stop your exercise routine to give your tendons time to heal; Ice––be sure to ice your muscles for 15-minute intervals during the first 48-72 hours after you notice the pain; Compression––using an ace bandage or shin splint wrap, be sure to keep pressure on your shins when not icing; Elevation––keep your feet above your heart for as much of the time as possible.

Most importantly, just listen to your body. If it tells you you're about to overdo it, ease off, and save that big run or walk for another day. I'm Jonathon Stewart with About.com.
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