What to do when you have shin splints

Anterior compartment syndrome is commonly referred to as shin splints.  When your shins throb and ache after your daily run or just sprinting to catch the bus, it could be shin splints.  A swelling in the tibialis anterior muscle within its fascial compartment, they are commonly seen in those who take up a new activity such as running when out of condition.  

They can be caused by:

  • Irritated and swollen muscles, often from overuse
  • Stress fractures, which are tiny breaks in the lower leg bones
  • Overpronation or ”flat feet” — when the impact of a step makes your foot’s arch collapse
  • Weakness in stabilizing muscles of the hips or core
  • Poor lumbar spine function

Treatment Tips for Shin Splints

  1. Rest your body. It needs time to heal.
  2. Ice your shin to ease pain and swelling. Do it for 15-20 minutes max every 3 to 4 hours for 2 to 3 days, or until the pain is gone.
  3. Take anti-inflammatories like nurofen, voltaren, or aspirin to help with pain and swelling. These drugs can have side effects, though, like a greater chance of bleeding and ulcers so their not recommended if you have a history of stomach issues, or if you are an asthmatic. Best to check with your doctor in case they are not advisable for you.
  4. See your osteopath to identify and treat issues in your back or legs or running mechanics that may be causing your shin splints. Osteopaths at Restore can also help ease the pain and guide your return to sport.  If they are concerned that you may have a stress fracture they will refer you for an x-ray.
  5. Use orthotics for your shoes. Shoe inserts may help with arches that collapse or flatten when you stand up.  Ask your osteo whether you are a good candidate for orthotics.
  6. Use a neoprene sleeve to support and warm your leg.
  7. When pain free again, EASE back into activities such as running very slowly to prevent recurrence.