Shin splints can occur as the result of several injuries or problems in the lower legs, so it is sometimes difficult to come up with a good treatment plan. Shin splints often occur in runners who want to keep running despite the pain, and while running with shin splints is possible, it is not always advisable as doing so can worsen the pain or exacerbate an injury. One way to make running with shin splints safer and more manageable is to use a shin splint compress, which is a tight fitting sleeve that slides onto the lower legs during physical activity.
Some runners experience shin splints in the middle of a run or race, which means running with shin splints may be necessary. If the pain is mild, this may be safe, but severe pain may indicate a need for the runner to stop running altogether. At this point, it is necessary for the runner to examine his or her running gait to determine if that is causing the pain. The runner may need to visit a professional trainer or even a doctor who can determine if the running motion is leading to serious issues in the lower leg, such as fractures, tendinitis, muscle strains, and so on.
A temporary fix that will allow a runner to continue running with shin splints is to use a compression sleeve. These sleeves are often made of neoprene or Lycra®, which are tight fitting materials that add extra support to the muscles and tendons within the lower leg. Shin splint sleeves can also increase blood flow and decrease swelling, and the less swelling that is present in the leg, the better the leg will feel. This is only a temporary fix, however, and it should be combined with other treatments for people who are running with shin splints.
The runner will need to consider both the conditioning exercises he or she does in the lower legs, and the fit of the running shoes he or she wears. Shoes that are worn out or are an improper fit — lacking in arch support, for example — may cause the foot and lower leg to move in unnatural ways, which can lead to shin splint pain. Runners should consider replacing footwear frequently, and should carefully research different shoes to find the ones with the best support. Conditioning exercises will also need to be done to strengthen and tone muscles and tendons in the lower leg. Shin splints are sometimes the result of fractures, which occur because muscles and tendons are not strong enough to support the legs through intense physical activity. Conditioning could help prevent such injuries.