Shin splint treatment and recovery is normally simple. You can often treat them at home, while more severe cases may require professional medical care. If you suspect you have shin splints, one of the first things you'll want to do -- even if you plan to visit a doctor -- is reduce the pain and swelling.
You may have heard of the RICE method. It stands for rest, icing, compression and elevation. While RICE is an effective treatment approach, unfortunately, you'll need to suspend running and any other high-impact activities for some time. This could mean days or weeks away from the track or trail. In the meantime, you may want to consider other activities like swimming or cycling which will help you maintain your fitness while allowing your shins time to heal.
To ice your shins, place a clean towel on the affected area then apply ice as many as eight times a day for up to 20 minutes a session. Compression -- like taping the area or wearing a neoprene sleeve -- can help support the muscles and provide nearly instant pain relief. (Remember this is just to help you resume daily activities like school or work. You still have to take a break from running until you're healed.) Elevating your leg above chest level can also reduce inflammation and resulting pain. Some athletic trainers also suggest alternating icing sessions with heat therapy, as well as massage. Your doctor or physical therapist may advise you to do range of motion exercises as well. If your shins don't respond to home remedies, you should consult your doctor.
You may be asking yourself, will these shin splints ever go away? The answer is on the next page.