Dealing with Shin Splints

By editor
October 15, 2015

Chances are if you exercise, particularly run, you’ve had shin splints to one degree or another. They are particularly frustrating because you’re trying to get your exercise, but doing so makes your shins throb and ache. You try and rest them, but getting shin splints to completely go away after they’ve initially developed can take months.

Here is some info on shin splints, causes, treatments, and ways to hopefully prevent them from reoccurring in the future.

Causes of shin splints

• Irritated and swollen muscles, often from overuse
• Stress fractures, tiny breaks in the lower leg bones
• Overpronation, commonly known as “flat feet,” where the impact of every step make your foot’s arch collapse
• Weakness in stabilizing muscles of the hips or core

Runners often get shin splints when they switch surfaces, say from a dirt path to asphalt. Shin splints are also common for dancers.


At Sports Medicine of Napa Valley, we can diagnose your shin splints and develop a treatment plan. They can heal on their own, but you may need an x-ray or bone scan if we feel fractures are involved.

Here are some other ways to deal with shin splints:

• Rest. You’ll need to stop running or whatever exercise caused the problem.
• Ice your shins to ease the pain and swelling. You’ll want to do it for 20-30 minutes every three to four hours until the pain is gone, probably at least two days.
• Take anti-inflammatories. Things like ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin can help with the pain and lessen the swelling.
• Range-of-motion exercises. Do different exercises to increase range of motion. We can give you a list.
• Use a neoprene sleeve. This will support and warm your leg.
• Orthotics. If you have flat feet, this is a must to avoid perennial shin splints.

If you’re suffering from shin splints that don’t seem to be getting better, make an appointment in either our Napa or Vacaville offices.
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