11 Home Remedies for Shin Splints

Many avid runners, joggers, and athletes know all too well the discomfort that comes from nagging shin splints when the front part of the lower leg suffers swelling and pain. If you’re an active individual or routinely play a sport, you face an increased chance of experiencing this type of injury. To assist the healing process and enjoy instant relief, consider home remedies for shin splints.

Home Remedies for Shin Splints

What is a Shin Splint?

Repeated stress to the shin bone (or tibia) and surrounding tissue that connects the muscle to the tibia can result in a shin splint [1]. Runners and joggers often experience shin splints, as well as people who take pleasure in activities that require running or jumping on hard surfaces, such as basketball, tennis, and track and field events, like long jumping.

There are two types of shin splints: posteromedial and anterolateral. With a posteromedial shin splint, the muscles in the back (posterior) and inner (medial) parts of the shin are affected. Anterolateral shin splints are associated with the front (anterior) and outside (lateral) parts of the shin.

Causes and Symptoms

The repeated pounding on hard surfaces causes the majority of shin splint cases, but you may also develop the condition when you wear shoes that don’t provide enough support, purchase new workout shoes, switch your running surfaces, work out harder than usual, or train too fast. If you have flat arches, you may also find yourself more susceptible to shin splints.

The majority of people with shin splints feel pain, tenderness or soreness along the front and inner part of the lower leg [2]. Mild swelling may also follow. If you ignore shin splints, the pain can increase, becoming a constant source of discomfort throughout a workout or activity. Severe cases see the pain last even after a workout is complete.

Shin Splint Home Remedies

Signs that shin splints are more serious include skin that is hot or inflamed, increasingly worse swelling, or pain that persists during rest periods. When the following home remedies for shin splints do not solve your issues, consider consulting a physician.

a) Mind Your Surfaces:

Avoid activities that involve hard surfaces. Make adjustments. For example, if you dance on a concrete floor covered with carpet – use a high-quality foam mat to soften the impact. The least-damaging floors for activities are made out of wood over airspace. If you run, exercise on dirt or grass surfaces before hitting the pavement. Keep in mind that asphalt is less damaging than concrete.

b) Follow RICE:

When shin splint pain arises, follow the RICE method of treatment for 20 to 30 minutes: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Wrap your shin with an Ace bandage and prop your leg up on a sizeable pillow before placing an ice pack to the pain.

c) Ice/Heat Combination:

When pain attacks the inner leg, alternate one minute with an ice pack and then one minute with heat. This is a good remedy to apply before doing any activity that has the potential to cause pain to your shins. Continue for at least 12 minutes.

d) Calf Stretch:

Prevent agitation of shin splints by stretching the Achilles tendon and the calf muscles. For a good stretch, place your hands on a wall while extending one leg behind the other. Press your back heel slowly to the floor. Stretch your calf 20 times and then repeat with the other leg.

e) Massage:

When pain is felt in the front of your leg, massage the region closer to the edge of the shin – making sure not to apply direct pressure to the bone, which can cause inflammation to worsen.

f) Tylenol:

Search your bathroom cabinet for the nearest over-the-counter medication, such as Tylenol or Advil, which contains ingredients that act as an effective painkiller.

g) Bag of Frozen Vegetables:

To reduce the pain and swelling of shin splints, apply a bag of frozen vegetables to your leg for 10 to 20 minutes – three or more times per day.

h) Elevation:

Anytime you sit or lie down, use pillows to elevate your lower leg. It is suggested to keep your lower leg at or above the same level of your heart. This helps to reduce swelling.

i) Warm Your Muscles:

Before running or participating in any activities that aggravate your shin splints, warm up the muscles in your lower legs. A couple of suggestions include riding a stationary bike for 10 minutes or taking a walk around the track before jogging or running at a faster pace.

j) Hot Towels:

Heat packs and soaking in hot tubs help loosen up muscles plagued with shin splint pain. When you don’t have access to the above remedies, consider applying hot towels to your lower legs for 15 to 20 minutes.

k) Tape:

Wrap your lower leg with medical tape (or an elastic bandage) to curb inflammation, support tissues, and isolate muscle movement.


[1] http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/shin-splints-topic-overview
[2] http://mayoclinic.com/health/shin-splints/DS00271/DSECTION=symptoms

Reader Comment

“My doctor said that while you should give your shins a rest, you don’t want to completely abandon all movement. Gently move your leg about to get your blood pumping and help heal damaged tissue. Moving around also helps shift excess fluid.”