Do Compression Socks Help Shin Splints?

One of the most common questions asked about compression socks by athletes is, do compression socks help shin splints. If you have ever had shin splints, you will know the value in finding a solution to not only the pain and discomfort it causes, but the time it takes out of your training regiment. Most common with runners, shin splints can cripple you for weeks at a time and can be extremely painful. So, do compression socks help shin splints?

Do Compression Socks Help Shin Splints

The short answer is yes. However, understanding how and why can help you not only heal your shin splints faster, it can help you prevent shin splints from occurring in the first place. It can also help you find the best compression socks for shin splints.

What Are Shin Splints?

Shin splints is itself not an actual injury, but a term used to describe a variety of injuries all of which cause pain to the inner and/or outer areas of the shin. Usually pain is located along the side of the shin, caused by inflammation of the shin muscles and or tiny micro fractures along the tibia.

The pain can be very uncomfortable and can force you to stop your training regime for lengthy intervals, as the healing process is very time consuming.

What Causes Shin Splints

Shin splints are essentially caused by escalating your training too quickly. As you run, especially on a hard surface, the impact of each stride causes vibrations to move through your calf and shins causing damage to the muscles and in some cases the tibia. Without taking the time to gradually built up your calf strength, the calf muscles do not have sufficient time to recover and heal themselves.

Those who have little experience with running who decide to participate in a running event, for example, will have a sudden increase in their running levels. The calf muscles will simply not be accustomed to this. A general rule of thumb to follow, is to restrict any increase in training to under 10% per week. This will allow your calf muscles the time they need to heal and grow.

Using Compression Socks to Treat Shin Splints

The best way to treat shin splints is to use the RICE method. That is:

Rest - Rest your shins and calf muscles by avoiding high impact activities. If possible stop exercising all together, or restrict your activities to low impact sports such as swimming.

Ice: 2-3 times per day ice the areas causing pain

Compression: Use compression socks to apply compression to the shins

Elevation: Raise your leg(s) above the level of your heart to help decrease inflammation

How Do Compression Socks Help Shin Splints

Do compression socks help shin splits? Yes, and in more way than one. Compression socks help shin splints by preventing shin splints from occurring at all, and treating them when they do occur.

To understand how, you need to first understand how compression socks work. Compression socks help promote the circulation of blood and increase the flow of blood upwards towards the heart. Known as graduated compression socks, they are tightest around the ankle and decrease in compression upwards along the leg. This encourages the flow of blood towards the heart. By doing so, fresh blood coming from the heart has a void to fill. So, in effect, compression socks help to pump blood in and around the feet, ankles and legs.

Preventing Shin Splints with Compression

This increase in blood circulation brings with it an increase in oxygen and other nutrient levels. It is believed that this aids in the prevention of shin splints occurring by feeding muscles more substance, thereby proactively reducing damage. Athletes also believe that in this way compression socks can help to boost performance. By providing the muscles with more oxygen, they effectively receive more fuel.

Another way compression socks help to prevent shin splints from occurring is by offering support. They compress the muscles which not only reduces any damage vibrations from impact can have, it also reduces any stress on the shin.

How Compression Socks Help To Treat Shin Splints

Compression socks help to encourage the circulation of blood and oxygen through the feet, ankles and legs. This circulation helps to reduce swelling and decrease inflammation. It is this inflammation which usually causes a lot of the pain associated with shin splints. As such, by reducing the inflammation, much of the pain is relieved. In addition, the circulation of blood promotes the accelerated healing of any damage to the tibia and/or muscles.

Managing Expectations

Compression socks do help to both prevent and treat shin splints. However it is very important that you maintain realistic expectations. Compression socks alone will not dramatically improve your condition. They will undoubtedly help, but should be considered together with other tools and methods to properly prevent and/or treat shin splints.

Final Thoughts

What do you think? Do compression socks help shin splints? We hope this post has been informative and will help you find relief against shin splints. 

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