Prevent shin splints: Reduce pain in your lower leg

Prevent shin splints: Reduce pain in your lower leg

Preventing shin splints is a good way to reduce the pain which you feel in your lower leg. Shin splints refer to the pain which is felt along the shinbone, or tibia. This is a large bone which runs along the front of your leg from your knee to your ankle. Sin splints are commonly seen in runners, dancers and military recruits.


Shin splints occur due to changes either in intensity or exercise. These changes cause for the muscles, bones and tendons to become overworked due to the increase in activity. Majority of shin splint treatments involve rest and icing which can be done in the comfort of your home. Changing footwear and gradually increasing activity, too, can help reduce the risk of shin splints in the future.

Shin splints symptoms

Shin splint symptoms include pain, tenderness or mild swelling of the lower part of your leg along the shinbone. Pain may immediately stop when the exercise you were performing stops or it may linger even after the activity is over.

Although shin splints are generally not cause for concern, if the pain does not go away even after at-home treatment it’s best to consult your doctor.

Shin splint treatment and prevention

Common shin splint treatment is quite simple and really only involves, rest, icing of the area and over the counter pain medications. It’s also important to keep in mind to gradually increase intensity and activity levels in order to reduce the risk of shin splints.

Other prevention methods for shin splints include:

  • Choosing proper footwear: choose running shoes for running, for example, and change shoes with every 350 to 500 miles (560 to 800 kms)
  • Consider arch support insoles: If you have flat feet or a low or high arch wearing insoles can help reduce shin splints
  • Reduce impact on your feet: Opt for activities like swimming in between intense exercises
  • Add strength training to your workout: This can help strengthen the muscles in your lower legs in order to prevent shin splints

Shin splint exercises

 In order to further prevent shin splints there are specific exercises you can perform to help stretch and strengthen the muscles, bones and tendons which support the shin. Here are four exercises you can perform in order to prevent future shin splints.

Toe curls: Stand with feet shoulder width apart at the edge of a towel. Begin with one foot by curling up the towel with your toes and bringing it closer towards you. Return to start and do the same motion with the other foot.

Heel drop: Stand at the edge of a step so your heels are hanging off of it – it may be helpful to use a staircase so you can hold onto the railing for support.  Lower your heels down as to feel the stretch in your calves and return back up. This can also be done one leg at a time.

One-legged bridge: lay on your back with arms to your sides, knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off the ground. Extend one leg up into the air and hold. Lower back down, repeat and switch legs.

These exercises work to strengthen the key areas which contribute to shin splints. If you experience shi splints often, even without strenuous exercise, consult you doctor.

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Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.