10 Natural Remedies for Shin Splints

Shin splints can be painful, here are ways to treat them

Have you ever had shin splints? If you have, then you know they are a terrible feeling in the large frontal bone in the lower leg. This condition is medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome, but the colloquial term for them is “shin splints”. Shin splints result when muscles, tendons, and bone tissue become overworked. This commonly happens in new runners or when runners intensify their usual workout routine. Common causes are flat feet, shoes that do not fit well or provide support, working out without stretching, or weak ankles and hips. The good news is that there are remedies to prevent and reduce the symptoms of shin splints, here are the 10 remedies to follow: 

  • Rest your body and stretch: Take a break from sports, running, and other activities to give you muscles and bones a chance to recover. This allows your body time to heal any damage or stress that may have been caused to your shins. Start slowly, and increase your activity level and intensity over time, not all within a few weeks. Avoid sudden increases in your running routine if you are not used to running fast or long distance. The recommended amount of rest is 7 to 10 days.
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  • Ice your shins and massage: Applying ice to the affected area helps reduce the swelling and pain. The recommended amount of time of application is 15-20 minutes, about 4-8 times per day. After applying ice, make sure to use compression wraps if the lower legs are swollen. Elevating the legs and massaging them at night can also help the symptoms of shin splints.
  • Use insoles or orthotics for your shoes: Flat feet are a cause of shins hurting. To prevent stress on your shins use shoe inserts or look for shoes that support your feet while running. If you know you have flat feet, it is best to consult an orthopedic for correct insoles in your shoes when running. Experts also recommend replacing shoes every 300 miles for better support. 
  • Tart cherry Juice: Tart cherry juice is rich in various nutrients and antioxidants. They are similar to sweet cherries, which are darker in color and not as bright red as the tart cherries. Some of the powerful nutrients and vitamins in tart cherries are fiber, protein, vitamin A, C and K, manganese, and potassium. In this study, 54 runners were given 355 mL bottles of tart cherry juice or a placebo drink twice a day for seven days prior to a running event and on the day of the race. Researchers concluded that drinking this cherry juice for eight days reduced the symptoms of exercise-induced muscle pain among runners. 
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  • Don’t workout through the pain: If you are one to continue to workout through the pain because of the idea that it will become easier to endure the next time, do not do it! Your shins need time to heal. It is best to try one of the recommended remedies for the pain and incorporate a different (lower intensity) activity to your routine in the meantime. For example: try swimming, walking, or yoga to help your body stretch and recover. 
  • Stay off the cement: Running or jogging on cement can hurt your feet if you are not used to it or trained to do so. Shin splints can be caused from the amount of force that your bones and muscles have to absorb from the ground and can lead to muscle fatigue and overuse. Avoid surfaces that are hard, uneven, or hills when running.  If you run often, consider adding low impact exercises to your routine to give your legs a break from the stress impact. 
  • Ginger root: The ginger root contains various antioxidants and compounds that prevent stress and damage to your body. It has been proven that ginger root can reduce pain and inflammation due to its anti-inflammatory properties. In a study, it showed that participants that took 60 mg of ginger extract an hour before exercise resulted in significant reduction of pain. Therefore, to help with the pain it is recommended to cut 1 to 2 inches of ginger root into small pieces and boil it into a tea to drink before a vigorous workout.
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  • Consume almonds: Almonds contain various nutrients that can help the body in many ways. Almonds contain protein, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. For example, almonds contain magnesium, fiber, and vitamin E. Vitamin E helps protect your cells from oxidative damage which can reduce the risk of inflammation, aging, and diseases. In addition, one ounce of almonds provides 37% of the recommended dietary intake of Vitamin E.  
  • Drink apple cider vinegar: This type of vinegar has a long history of home remedies because of its antimicrobial properties and nutrients. It can be used to treat things like sore throat, weight loss, reduce cholesterol, improve heart health, and clearer skin. It is recommended you dilute the vinegar in a cup of water before drinking due to its level of acidity. Therefore, mix 1 teaspoon of vinegar with a glass of water before exercising to help reduce the risk of inflammation and pain. 
  • Vitamin D: When consumed, vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium; this aids in building strong bones. This vitamin is also known to contain anti-inflammatory properties that help with swelling and pain. The daily recommended amount for ages 1 through 70 is 15 mcg. Some foods that contain vitamin D are fish, fish liver oils, beef liver, yogurt, and orange juice. 
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