Shin splints are a painful overuse injury that are common to runners, or other athletes who may be doing a lot of running as part of a conditioning program for another sport. Sharp pain on the outside edge of the shin is the most common symptom.
Depending on the severity of the injury, it can be a minor annoyance that can be played on through treatment, or it may cause such a sharp degree of pain that it requires a complete shutdown of any running related activity.
As with any sports injury ice, rest and elevation are the best remedies for healing. Keeping ice over the injured area will help reduce any inflammation. To reduce swelling and fluid build-up, keep the limb elevated, and to deal with any pain you can take some ibuprofen.
Preventing Shin Splints Exercise
Perhaps the best treatment for shin splints is prevention. There are a number of exercises that you can do which will strengthen the calf and muscles surrounding your shin.
Calf raises, lunges, and a wide range of weight exercises on a power sled will help to build a solid muscle mass around your shin and calf. This increase in strength and stability will enhance your body's ability to take some abuse and greatly decreases the possibility that the shin splints will be a recurring injury.
Shin Splints and Stress Fractures
If, after several weeks of rest, ice, and elevation you are still experiencing sharp pain when you try to run, it may be time to see a doctor. There is another overuse injury that has similar symptoms, but which may require additional treatment. Stress fractures are painful, and typically require a much longer recovery time. If you allow your shin splint to go unchecked, they can often be the pre-cursor to a stress fracture. Therefore, do not let them linger without some kind of treatment.
Shin Splints Stretches
Stretching can play a big part in recovery and offer some relief to the shin splints. There are few stretches that work the shins, but a good quadriceps stretch might help.
Support yourself against a wall with one hand and pull your foot up behind you. If you can feel the pulling along the front of your thigh, that is the quad being stretched. Now, if you grab your instep and pull your foot out straight so your toes are pointing at the ceiling you will feel that stretch along your shin. Do this carefully and slowly. Whenever stretching, use slow, fluid movements, never jerk or bounce. Tendons connect all the muscles and when the quad relaxes, so does everything that is tied to it.