For a runner, there aren’t many things worse than coming down with shin splints. They can leave you sidelined for a significant amount of time, not to mention the ongoing pain they cause.
If you’re suffering from shin splints, you’re probably wondering about shin splints recovery time and how long shin splints last. Those are topics we’re going to cover in this article, along with some tips for speeding up your recovery time for shin splints.
A Quick Overview of Shin Splints
Shin splints are usually caused by repetitive stress on the shin bone, such as your feet repeatedly hitting the ground while running. Basically, this causes the muscles, tendons, and connective tissue around the shin bone to become inflamed, leading to the pain that’s associated with shin splints.
Shin splints are pretty common among runners, especially those who are regularly running long distances. The main symptoms of shin splints are pain and soreness along the inner side of your shin. You might also have some swelling in your lower leg. The pain usually only occurs when running, but if left untreated, can lead to constant pain and even stress fractures.
How Long to Heal Shin Splints: What is the Average Recovery Time for Shin Splints?
As well as being painful, shin splints often mean you need to take a break from your usual levels of exercise, which is frustrating for many people and leads to the question, how long to heal shin splints? Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer as it depends on a number of different factors. Let’s take a look at different things that can affect shin splints recovery time and how long shin splints last.
Factors Affecting How Long Shin Splints Last
There are two main factors that affect your shin splints recovery time. The first is the severity of the initial injury. Some people stop exercising as soon as they feel any pain, which usually results in a milder injury that heals more quickly. Others try to run through the pain, increasing the severity of their shin splints which requires more time to heal.
The second factor is how patient you are during your recovery phase. If you go back to too much activity too soon, you can re-aggravate the inflammation around your shin muscles and set your recovery time back. Not returning to physical activity until you are pain-free can actually speed up your healing in the long run.
So, How Long Does it Take to Heal Shin Splints on Average?
Typically, shin splints can take up to six months to fully heal. However, the actual recovery time for shin splints is much less than that, because you can usually return to activity during the later stages of the healing process. Most people take 2-6 weeks of rest where they do not run or do anything that causes a repetitive impact on the lower leg (like running).
What’s the Longest Shin Splints Can Last?
In some cases, the recovery time for shin splints can be six months. This is usually for severe shin splints that weren’t treated initially, and require more time for the body to heal. This is pretty rare, with most people experiencing a shin splints recovery time of more like six weeks.
What if My Shin Splints Aren’t Healing on Their Own?
If your recovery time for shin splints is longer than expected, it might be time to see your doctor. They may want to make sure that your shin splints haven’t developed into a stress fracture, and rule out that the pain you’re experiencing isn’t being caused by some other medical condition. They can also give you some tips to help speed up your shin splints recovery time.
Tips for Speeding Up the Shin Splints Recovery Time
How long shin splints last can be very frustrating, but there are a few things you can do to speed up your recovery time and get back to pounding the pavement. Here are some tips to reduce how long to heal shin splints.
Give Your Body Time to Rest
Rest is key when it comes to your shin splints recovery time. After the first two weeks of rest, it’s usually fine to incorporate some low-impact exercise like swimming or cycling into your routine. If this goes well, you can start to try impact movements like running again after around four weeks. Take it easy to begin with, and only increase your distance by 10% each week. Of course, stop immediately if you experience pain.
Stretch the Surrounding Tissue
If you’re trying to figure out how long to heal shin splints, you can speed up the process by stretching the muscles around your shin. By stretching your calf muscles, you can promote blood flow which can reduce inflammation and speed up your shin splints recovery time. Plus, stretching can also ease tight calves & knee pain.
Wondering how to stretch shin splints? Using flexibility equipment like the amazing CastleFlexx tool makes it easy to stretch the muscles around your shins. You can also use the device for other lower and upper leg muscles, including stretches for tight glutes and fascial stretch therapy.
The CastleFlexx is an all-in-one stretching and flexibility tool that delivers all the benefits of assisted stretching and flexibility. So, how long does it take to get flexible? Not as long as you would expect when using the CastleFlexx!
Ice the Affected Area to Reduce Inflammation
Applying ice to your shins helps reduce the inflammation, which in turn relieves you of pain and helps to improve your shin splints recovery time. Ice your shins as regularly as needed, for 15-20 minutes at a time.
Wear Compression Socks
Many people wear compression clothing while they are running, but this won’t help to prevent shin splints. If you already have shin splints, you can reduce your shin splints recovery time by wearing compression socks. Compression socks increase blood flow to the lower leg, which increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the damaged muscle cells, and reduces how long shin splints last.
Massage or Foam Roll Surrounding Tissue
Foam rolling or deep tissue massage of your shins is another way to reduce how long shin splints last. Massage therapy is more effective than foam rolling, as a massage therapist is able to feel where the issues are and work deeply on those specific areas of the muscle.
Advice on Avoiding Shin Splints in the Future
One of the best ways to avoid shin splints is to gradually increase how much you are running. It’s best to only run 3-4 days each week, and use the other days for recovery, stretching, and cross-training. Also, you should only increase your total weekly running distances by around 10% each week.
Your running form can also help prevent shin splints - make sure you are landing on your midfoot (not your heel) and keeping your foot and calf muscles relaxed. Also, invest in a good pair of running shoes with plenty of cushioning and support, and replace your running shoes every 200-500 miles.
Closing Thoughts on How Long to Heal Shin Splints
Although how long to heal shin splints varies from person to person, this article offers an overview of what you can expect if you have shin splints. You can also speed up your recovery time by getting plenty of rest and regularly stretching the muscles in your lower leg.
The easiest way to stretch your calves is with the CastleFlexx tool - it’s portable, comfortable and easy to use, and will significantly reduce your shin splint recovery time. Try the CastleFlexx today!