Natural Methods for Shin Splint Recovery


Shin splints are a common health condition often affecting athletes, runners, dancers, and even military personnel1. While more prevalent in these groups, they’re not exclusive to them and can impact anyone who engages in physical activities that put stress on the lower legs. The discomfort and pain associated with shin splints can be significant, affecting your athletic performance as well as general daily activities.

As you continue reading, you'll learn what shin splints are, what causes them, and effective natural methods for shin splint recovery. By understanding the underlying causes of this condition and integrating the right recovery methods for you, you’ll be able to get back to living your life with less pain and lower your risk of experiencing them again.

What Are Shin Splints?

Shin splints, which your doctor may refer to by the medical term “medial tibial stress syndrome” (MTSS), is a condition that causes pain along the inner edge of your shinbone called the tibia. This condition is common among athletes — especially runners and dancers — because of the high-impact nature of those activities. What may surprise you is research shows a heightened prevalence of shin splints in military recruits, as well2. This is most likely due to the intensity of military training camp where recruits run miles each day.

Pain associated with shin splints can range from a dull ache to sharp, intense discomfort and typically worsens during or after you’re physically active.

What Causes Shin Splints?

As with any health condition, understanding the causes is crucial for shin splint recovery and prevention. What causes shin splints?

Shin splints can occur due to a range of factors ranging from overuse to inadequate muscle strength. It’s one of the most common sports injuries but may be avoidable if you prepare correctly. Conversely, if you’re already experiencing this condition, recognizing what caused it helps facilitate faster shin splint recovery.

Some of the most common causes of shin splints are:

  • Overuse: Putting your body through high-intensity activities without allowing enough time for recovery can lead to shin splints. The repeated stress on your shinbone and surrounding muscles causes inflammation and pain.
  • Improper footwear: Wearing shoes that don’t provide enough support or have worn-out cushioning can increase your risk of shin splints. Having the right footwear helps absorb impact and provide stability during physical activities like running.
  • Flat feet or high arches: The condition of your feet, like having flat feet or high arches, can lead to uneven distribution of stress on the lower legs. This excess stress on certain parts of your shinbone can lead to shin splints.
  • Sudden increase in activity: A rapid increase in the intensity, duration, or frequency of physical activities like exercise and playing sports can put strain on your shinbone and surrounding muscles. This overuse results in painful inflammation.
  • Running on hard surfaces: Hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt create a higher impact on your legs and increase the possibility of experiencing shin splints. This is why so many runners and military personnel have shin splints at some point. Running on softer surfaces like grass or trails can help lower your risk.
  • Poor conditioning: A lack of conditioning and muscle strength can make your lower legs more susceptible to injury due to overuse. Strengthening exercises and gradual conditioning are essential for shin splint recovery and prevention.
  • Not enough warm-up time: Skipping warm-up exercises or not stretching enough before taking part in physical activities increases your risk of shin splints. Warm-up routines prepare your muscles and help with how to keep joints healthy.

Average Shin Splint Recovery Time

Now that you have a better understanding of this condition, what about shin splint recovery and how long it takes? Your shin splint recovery time can vary depending on the severity of your condition and the effectiveness of the treatments you try. For most people, shin splint recovery time ranges from a few weeks to several months, with an average of three to four weeks.

The majority of cases may see improvement within two to four weeks with shin splint recovery techniques like resting enough, applying cold therapy, and doing a gradual return to being active. More severe cases may require a longer recovery period, sometimes extending up to three to six months.

It’s essential to discuss your path to recovery with your doctor for professional guidance and to see what works best for you. Avoid rushing back into high-impact activities to prevent further injury that prolongs shin splint recovery time. Patience and consistent care are what will get you back to full health.

Shin Splint Recovery Tips and Techniques

Shin splint recovery is aimed at reducing pain, promoting healing, and preventing it from flaring up again. With the proper application of tips and techniques that work for your body, you can optimize shin splint recovery time and get back to being as pain-free as possible. From adequate rest and compression, to shin splint recovery exercises and using tools like zero gravity chairs, your treatment options are diverse.

Consider these shin splint recovery methods for a natural approach to healing your body:

  1. Resting for shin splint recovery
  2. Applying cold therapy for shin splints
  3. Wearing compression garments
  4. Elevating your legs
  5. Stretching and shin splint recovery exercises
  6. Making a gradual return to being active

1. Resting for Shin Splint Recovery

Rest is the most important element of shin splint recovery. Allowing your body time to heal without the stress of high-impact activities is crucial for alleviating pain and fighting inflammation. During this time, minimize any activities that may exacerbate your symptoms, such as running or jumping. Instead, focus on low impact exercises like swimming or going for a short walk to keep up your fitness levels without putting additional strain on your shins.

You may also consider a post-workout recovery routine tool like a zero gravity chair. Using a zero gravity chair helps how the body heals itself. They elevate your legs above your heart level and distribute weight evenly along your body, which helps reduce swelling and improve circulation. This zero gravity position is intended to alleviate discomfort and may accelerate shin splint recovery time. Bonus features like heat therapy and massage functions make your experience even better and could make shin splint recovery faster. 

2. Applying Cold Therapy for Shin Splints

Cold therapy is a simple, yet effective, method to manage shin splint recovery as it alleviates pain and inflammation. Applying ice to the affected area helps constrict blood vessels, reducing swelling and numbing your pain.

Never apply a cold compress directly to your skin. Instead, apply an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel to your shins for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day. Be sure you’re applying cold therapy compresses after any activities that may have strained your legs during your recovery.

Combining cold therapy with other methods like rest and compression may boost the overall effectiveness of your shin splint recovery methods.

3. Wearing Compression Garments for Shin Splint Recovery

Compression sleeves or bandages are beneficial recovery tools for athletes that help with managing shin splint recovery. They provide support to your lower leg muscles and help reduce swelling. Wearing compression gear during and after being physically active prevents excessive movement of your muscles to prevent overuse injuries.

Using compression as part of your shin splint recovery strategy can also offer the mental comfort of knowing your shins are supported. It’s important to choose the right level of compression as too tight can be counterproductive while being too loose may not provide enough support. Talk to your doctor and follow guidelines for wearing compression gear to get the maximum benefit and remain comfortable.

4. Elevating Your Legs 

Elevation is another effective technique to reduce swelling and facilitate shin splint recovery. Elevating your legs above heart level helps decrease blood flow to the injured area, reducing inflammation and pain. This can be easily achieved by using a zero gravity chair.

The benefits of elevating legs after taking part in physical activities don’t just help with immediate relief of symptoms but also play a part in long-term recovery and prevention.

5. Stretching and Shin Splint Recovery Exercises

Stretching is essential for both recovery and prevention of shin splints. Regularly stretching your calf muscles and Achilles tendon can alleviate tension and promote better flexibility in your lower legs.

Some effective stretch and shin splint recovery exercises you might do are:

  • Calf raises
  • Ankle circles
  • Resistance band foot flexes
  • Seated calf stretch
  • Heel walking

Integrate these stretches and shin splint recovery exercises into your regular routine for optimal results. They make an easy addition to active recovery workouts while you heal.

6. Making a Gradual Return to Being Active

Once the initial acute pain and inflammation of shin splints have subsided, a gradual return to being physically active is often best. Start with low impact exercises like swimming or cycling to keep up your cardiovascular fitness without setting back your shin splint recovery time. You can slowly reintroduce more intense activities by following the 10% rule. This rule means increasing your activity level by no more than 10% per week.

Keeping track of your recovery and how your body is responding is important. If your pain or discomfort starts back up, reduce the intensity and give your body more time to heal. A gradual approach to being active again not only helps prevent re-injury but also allows your muscles and bones to adapt to increased stress. That makes it less likely you might experience shin splints in the future.

Support Your Shin Splint Recovery Efforts

Natural shin splint recovery methods like using a zero gravity chair, doing gentle exercises, and resting will help you get back on your feet in no time. By understanding the causes and tailoring your shin splint recovery techniques to fit your lifestyle, you can effectively manage the condition and potentially prevent future occurrences.

Disclaimer: This content is not medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare professional when considering implementing changes to your health or workout routines to ensure it’s compatible with your needs.

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