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Why Won't My Shin Splints Go Away? Causes & Treatments.

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Are you tired of dealing with the persistent pain of shin splints? You're not alone. Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts struggle with this common overuse injury. Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, can be frustrating and seem to linger despite rest and treatment. But why won't they go away? In this article, we'll explore the reasons behind your stubborn shin splints and provide you with insights on how to finally find relief. We'll discuss the potential causes of shin splints, including improper training techniques, worn-out footwear, and biomechanical issues. Additionally, we'll delve into the importance of rest and recovery, along with effective treatments such as icing, stretching, and strengthening exercises. Understanding why your shin splints won't heal is the first step towards finding a solution. By addressing the root causes and implementing proper strategies, you can get back to your favorite activities with less pain and faster recovery time. Don't let shin splints hold you back any longer. Let's uncover the secrets to banishing them for good.

Understanding Shin Splints

Shin splints are a common injury characterized by pain along the inner edge of the shinbone (tibia). They often occur in athletes who engage in running sports or activities that involve a lot of running or jumping. The pain associated with shin splints is due to inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around the tibia. If left untreated, shin splints can progress to stress fractures, leading to more severe complications.


The primary cause of shin splints is repetitive stress on the shinbone and the tissues attaching the shinbone to the muscles surrounding it. This stress is often a result of overuse, improper training techniques, or sudden changes in physical activity. Understanding the underlying mechanisms of shin splints is crucial in developing an effective treatment plan to address the issue at its core.


Shin splints can be challenging to deal with, especially if they persist despite rest and conservative treatments. However, with the right approach and proper management, you can overcome shin splints and prevent them from recurring in the future. By incorporating targeted exercises, modifying your training routine, and making smart footwear choices, you can alleviate pain and promote healing in your shins.

Understanding Shin Splints

Causes of Shin Splints

Shin splints can stem from various factors, including biomechanical issues, muscle imbalances, and training errors. One common cause is overpronation, where the feet roll inward excessively during walking or running, leading to increased stress on the lower leg. Other contributing factors include running on hard surfaces, inadequate warm-up or cool-down routines, and wearing unsupportive footwear.


Another key contributor to shin splints is the sudden increase in intensity or duration of physical activity. Your body needs time to adapt to new demands, and pushing yourself too hard too soon can result in overuse injuries like shin splints. It's essential to progress gradually and listen to your body's signals to avoid putting excessive strain on your shins.


Improper running form can also play a significant role in the development of shin splints. For instance, striking the ground with your heel first instead of your midfoot or forefoot can increase impact forces on your shins, leading to discomfort and injury over time. Working with a coach or physical therapist to improve your running technique can help alleviate stress on your shins and prevent future issues.

Symptoms Of Shin Splints

The symptoms of shin splints typically manifest as a dull, aching pain along the inner part of the shinbone. You may experience tenderness, swelling, or soreness in the affected area, especially during or after exercise. The pain may be sharp or throbbing and can worsen with activity. In severe cases, you may notice redness or bruising along the shin, indicating more significant tissue damage.


It's essential to pay attention to these symptoms and not ignore them, as early intervention can prevent the progression of shin splints to more severe complications like stress fractures. If you experience persistent pain in your shins that does not improve with rest, icing, or over-the-counter pain medication, it's crucial to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.


Ignoring the symptoms of shin splints or trying to push through the pain can prolong your recovery time and increase the risk of further injury. By addressing the issue early on and taking proactive steps to manage your symptoms, you can expedite the healing process and get back to your regular activities sooner. Remember, your body's signals are there for a reason – listen to them and prioritize your health.

Common Mistakes When Treating Shin Splints

One common mistake people make when dealing with shin splints is neglecting proper rest and recovery. Shin splints are often the result of overuse or repetitive stress on the shins, so continuing to push through the pain can exacerbate the injury and delay healing. It's crucial to give your body the time it needs to recover fully before returning to your usual physical activities.


Another mistake is relying solely on passive treatments like icing or pain medication without addressing the underlying causes of shin splints. While these methods can help alleviate symptoms temporarily, they may not prevent the issue from recurring if the root causes are not addressed. To effectively treat shin splints, you need to identify and correct any biomechanical issues, muscle imbalances, or training errors contributing to the problem.


Some individuals also make the mistake of returning to their normal training routine too quickly after experiencing shin splints. Rushing back into intense physical activity without allowing sufficient time for recovery can lead to reinjury and prolonged discomfort. Gradually reintroducing exercise, modifying your training load, and incorporating cross-training activities can help prevent recurrence and promote long-term healing.

Proper Treatment For Shin Splints

Stretching exercises can also help improve flexibility in the calf muscles and reduce tension on the shinbone. Incorporating dynamic stretches, such as calf raises and ankle circles, into your warm-up routine can prepare your muscles for activity and minimize the risk of injury. Additionally, strengthening exercises targeting the muscles of the lower leg and foot can help stabilize the shinbone and prevent excess stress during movement.


Massage therapy, foam rolling, and other soft tissue techniques can aid in loosening tight muscles and improving blood flow to the affected area. These modalities can help reduce muscle tension, alleviate soreness, and promote faster recovery from shin splints. By combining various treatment methods and addressing both symptoms and root causes, you can optimize your recovery and prevent future episodes of shin splints.

Exercises To Prevent And Manage Shin Splints

Incorporating targeted exercises into your workout routine can help prevent shin splints by improving strength, flexibility, and biomechanics in the lower leg. Toe taps, heel walks, and ankle alphabet exercises can enhance ankle stability and mobility, reducing the risk of overuse injuries like shin splints. Additionally, calf stretches, shin splints, and toe curls can help strengthen the muscles of the lower leg and foot.


Plyometric exercises, such as jumping jacks, skipping, and box jumps, can also be beneficial in preventing shin splints by enhancing muscle power and shock absorption. These high-intensity activities can condition your muscles and bones to withstand the impact forces associated with running and jumping, reducing the strain on your shins. By incorporating a variety of exercises into your routine, you can build resilience in your lower legs and minimize the risk of injury.


When performing exercises to manage shin splints, it's essential to start gradually and listen to your body's feedback. If you experience pain or discomfort during a particular movement, stop and reassess your technique. Working with a qualified fitness professional or physical therapist can help ensure you're performing exercises correctly and safely, reducing the risk of exacerbating your shin splints.

Shin Splints

How To Choose The Right Footwear For Shin Splints

Selecting the appropriate footwear is crucial in preventing and managing shin splints, as supportive shoes can help reduce impact forces on your lower legs and provide cushioning during physical activity. When choosing running shoes, look for pairs with adequate arch support, cushioning in the heel and forefoot, and stability features to control overpronation. Avoid shoes that are too worn out or lack proper support, as they can exacerbate biomechanical issues and increase the risk of injury.


In addition to selecting the right footwear, wearing orthotic inserts or custom-made shoe inserts can further enhance the support and stability of your shoes. Orthotics can correct biomechanical issues, redistribute pressure on the foot, and improve overall alignment, reducing the strain on your shins during physical activity. Consult with a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist to determine if orthotic inserts are right for you and to receive a customized fitting.

Tips For Preventing Shin Splints In The Future

Preventing shin splints requires a proactive approach that addresses risk factors, promotes proper training techniques, and prioritizes recovery and self-care. To reduce your likelihood of developing shin splints in the future, consider the following tips:


1. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts to allow your body to adapt to new demands.


2. Incorporate cross-training activities like swimming, cycling, or strength training to reduce repetitive stress on your shins.


3. Ensure proper warm-up and cool-down routines before and after exercise to prepare your muscles for activity and promote recovery.


4. Listen to your body's signals and adjust your training load or technique if you experience pain or discomfort.


5. Invest in high-quality footwear with adequate support, cushioning, and stability features to reduce the risk of biomechanical issues.


6. Work with a qualified coach, physical therapist, or podiatrist to assess your running mechanics and address any gait abnormalities or muscle imbalances.


7. Prioritize rest, nutrition, and hydration to support your body's recovery and overall health.

Bilt Labs Custom Orthotics

Shin splints, that nagging pain along your shins, can sideline even the most dedicated athlete. Caused by repetitive stress on the muscles and tissues surrounding your shinbone, shin splints can make every run or jump feel like an uphill battle. While rest, proper footwear, and reduced intensity are crucial for recovery, Bilt Labs custom orthotics can be a powerful weapon in your fight against shin splints.


Here's why Bilt Labs custom orthotics can be your secret weapon:


  • Precision Alignment: Shin splints are often linked to improper foot mechanics, particularly excessive pronation (rolling inward) during movement. Bilt Labs' custom orthotics are crafted from precise molds of your feet, ensuring a perfect fit that corrects your unique alignment. This reduces stress on the muscles and tissues in your shins, promoting healing and preventing further strain.


  • Targeted Support: Bilt Labs orthotics come in two variations: Active and Everyday. Both offer targeted arch support, a key factor in preventing shin splints. The Active option provides additional support and stability specifically designed for high-impact activities like running or jumping.


  • Shock Absorption: Bilt Labs orthotics incorporate high-quality, shock-absorbing materials that cushion your feet with every step. This reduces the impact on your shins, lessening pain and promoting faster recovery.


By addressing the biomechanical factors that contribute to shin splints, Bilt Labs custom orthotics can help you get back to your favorite activities faster and pain-free. Don't let shin splints hold you back – Bilt Labs orthotics can be the key to a stronger, more comfortable stride.

Bilt Labs Custom Orthotics

Conclusion: Taking Care Of Your Shins And Staying Active

If your shin splints have lingered despite following recommended treatments, don't despair. Persistent pain could indicate a more complex issue or a need for a different approach. Consulting a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation can provide a definitive diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. Remember, addressing the root cause is key to lasting relief. With the right support and guidance, you can get back to enjoying pain-free movement. Take our free quiz today to find out which orthotic type is best for your feet.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any decisions about your health. If you have any questions about your health or are experiencing any medical problems, please contact your doctor or other healthcare provider immediately. Do not delay seeking medical attention based on the information provided in this article.