How to Avoid Shin Splints

Sahara sitting on a bench at the track, smiling at camera in black nike hijab

Every runner's worst nightmare is shin splints. That includes me in this equation. If you don't know what shin splints are: it's when you have pain/tenderness/soreness in the large bone in front of your lower leg. The more you try to shake it off that it's not something serious, the more serious it becomes and you can end up out of running/exercising for a few months. That isn't ideal when you're working towards a goal and suddenly everything is in shambles.

Now, I've had a few run-ins with shin splints. From having to take 1 month off to several months off because I tried to shake it off saying I was fine and it was all in my head. Narrator: It was not.

Thankfully, I've been smooth sailing for the past handful of months (according to my Nike app I've been running 12 Months straight?) - and this is mainly due to me taking every precaution necessary to ensure me and shin splints do not meet up for some tea any time soon.

If you currently have shin splints - this happens mainly to runners, dancers! - I hope these tips are helpful!

1. Leave an Ice Pack on your shins in the evenings for 15-20 mins

Even when you're not ~injured~ having an ice pack on your shins can really help after a hard workout. When my legs are sore after either a speed workout on the track, or after a long run, I put some ice packs on my legs in the evening to relax my shins and they feel great afterwards. I usually do this at least 2-3 times a week. Or if I'm feeling a bit lazy, at least once a week.

According to Runner's World: "Ice can decrease pain and inflammation and enhance healing."

Sahara sitting on a bench at the track, smiling at camera in black nike hijab
fun fact: a lot of people were staring at me with my tripod, but ya girl was not about to let that ruin this photo session after a sweaty speed run

2. Ice Baths

In the same vibe as ice packs but rather than having it concentrated on only your shins, you can make sure your whole leg gets the ice treatment. Running isn't just about your shins, and it's important to concentrate on all areas of your body when recovering. When you first start ice baths there's going to a lot of mental convincing to get into the tub of ice but trust me - your legs will be happy afterwards! Plus, it's actually the perfect time to watch a Ted Talk. I watched Don't Strive to be Famous, Strive to be Talented | Maise Williams.

Sahara sitting on a bench at the track with track bag, smiling at camera in black nike hijab
I call this I don't know where I'm going but clearly I have plans to go somewhere with my track bag

2.1 Contrast Hydrotherapy 

Now you may or may not be scratching your head at this but hear me out. I heard about this from Chari Hawkins, Team USA Heptathlete -  I still have to give it a try myself however I wanted to include it in the event that you've heard of this. Contrast Hydrotherapy is just a fancy way of saying alternating between ice + hot baths - I found this article really helpful in breaking it down: Contrast Hydrotherapy.

You can even alternate between Ice Packs + Heating Pads as well! I'll have to try this and report back either on here or over on my Instagram!

3. Squats

OK OK - I know you're sitting there wondering how did we go from ice-y hot recovery to this but trust me on this okay! The most important thing is to have strong legs. Strong legs - read: strong shins - means you can handle pushing off the ground as your mileage increases. This is where having leg day at the gym is super beneficial, but if you don't have access to the gym, that doesn't mean your leg strength completely has to go down hill. Squats are a great way to improve your leg strength - especially with a resistance band for your glutes - the stronger your legs the more your legs can handle, which leads me to my next point.

Also, because I don't want you guys having the wrong form squatting, here is an infographic on proper form - happy squatting!

Sahara sitting on a bench at the track, smiling at camera in black nike hijab
running out of captions here but hello just cheesin' here

4. Steady Mileage Buildup

I like to think we've all been here. Wanting to increase your mileage as soon as possible to be like all the other runners you see on Instagram. I'm here to tell you that that's actually the quickest way - from personal experience  - to get shin splints. By increasing your mileage too quickly, your legs are being over worked and that's how Shin Splints enter your life. I went from running 0 miles to 8 miles in one week and my legs felt sore and I physically couldn't run even if I wanted to because of how much pressure I put on my legs.

To avoid Shin Splints after coming back to running after Ramadan, I've been going up each week by 0.25. So when I was running 1 mile one week, the next week - if I felt my body was ready for an increase - I increased to 1.25. There were also times where I felt I needed to settle into a distance and ended up staying with one distance for a week and a half. You know your body, listen to how your body feels each run and make your decision based on that not based on how many miles XYZ did on Instagram.

This is actually one reason why I am sometimes vague with my mileage and pacing on my Instagram in my training. Sometimes I mention it if I'm comparing Month X to Month Y or if I'm discussing a race, but usually I keep my miles and pace to myself. This is mainly because I know how much it affects me when I see someone else where I want to be but am not and I don't ever want to make someone feel negative on their own running based on where I am in my running life (I hope that made sense).

5. Foam Rolling

Before working out, roll out your calves (and thighs too) to warm up. Foam Rolling can help relieve muscle tightness and reduce inflammation. Personally, foam rolling really helps relax my muscles and also prepares my muscles for a workout - think of it as a muscle massage!

Also, there are foam rollers that vibrate and I for one am here for those (I don't have one of those but they seem awesome!) I have 2 types of foam rollers: One big one and one smaller one. The big one is a general one I use before sleeping while the small one really digs deep into my muscles. 

ALSO, slightly off topic but stay with me on this: Foam Roll your back. Trust me. Thank me later.

Sahara sitting on a bench at the track, smiling at camera in black nike hijab


Yes, that was written in caps lock for a reason. There is this idea that you have to be working out everyday with no rest in between. But, with no rest, how does your body recover? By having a rest day in your schedule - or even 2 days of rest- you allow your muscles to relax and save yourself from any injury you would have gotten if you overtrained. I've written a post all about the importance of recovery if you're interested in reading more of my thoughts: Importance of Recovery days.

Also, Golden Milk is an actual savior for inflammation! According to a study, the main ingredients in Golden Milk (Turmeric, Ginger, and cinnamon)  are effective in reducing inflammation and joint pain.

And there we have it! I really hope that this list was helpful - as a runner who has had SEVERAL run ins with shin splits, this is what I've found worked best for me. Recover Smart and Run Smart - that's practically the best advice I can give you.

I'd love to know if you all have anything you do to avoid shin splints - do you use ice packs? Hop into an ice bath? LET ME KNOW!


  1. I laughed so hard here. Okay, I've never had shin splints. My hips are my weak spots and where I get all of my pain if I don't take care of myself but that's an unfortunate bone density problem that's about 12 years old at this point. BUT when I first started running, I got the dreaded runners' knee. I (foolishly) went from never moving at all (literally) to running a mile a day, trying to improve my time before I added distance. After about a month, that caught up with me and put me out for a couple of weeks. And I feel like the recovery for that is similar to shin splints. At that point, I got a foam roller and that changed the game with my recovery. I've been a little lazy with my rolling lately, I need to make it routine again! x


    1. Wait really!! That's actually amazing to hear (read: what are your secrets to how you've avoided shin splints haha). I actually had hip flexor pain after attempting to skateboard and leaving my pushing foot behind - realistically speaking I have not the slightest clue I left a limb behind - and that was where I learned all about recovery for hip pain; a whole lot of massaging/ice!

      Something I recently came across as rolling on your hip either on a tennis ball (or there's a specific ball that I've seen a runner use that vibrates) and it helps so much, personally. Do you do something similar?

      I actually haven't gotten runners knee before, surprisingly! But I definitely relate to going from 0 to 100 - injuries really call us back to reality haha. I used to think I had to run every day to see a change in my time, and as I recovered from injuries that's when I realized I had it all wrong!

      Foam rolling is such a life saver! I didn't have my foam roller for the couple of weeks I was on vacation (I foam roll every day/night) and my muscles felt so so tight, especially my back! I sometimes get a bit lazy, but 100% never regret a good foam roll in my daily routine!

  2. You've got some great suggestions here - some that I knew about but a couple new ones to consider as well. Before I took the time to look into injury prevention in my workouts, this is something I dealt with FAR too often lol

    1. YAY - so glad to hear you enjoyed reading and heard of some new suggestions! To be fair, I think we only wonder abut injury prevention once we're either recovering from an injury or starting back up with exercising and making sure not to repeat what led to an injury!

  3. So many great tips here - I don't think I've ever gotten split shints as I'm such a novice runner, but your advice to really listen to your body is so important to keep in mind. I've definitely been guilty of pushing myself too far and then suffering from the leg pain for days afterward. Also, I hear so many great things about foam rollers, so I may need to finally pick one up.

    xo, LP | The Newbury Girl

    1. It's so important to listen to your body - sometimes we brush off what our body is trying to tell us because we're either so focused on our goals or playing the comparing game. I definitely relate to waddling around like a penguin after overdoing it at the gym haha. And yess!! Foam rolling will forever change your recovery!!

  4. I feel like ice packs actually solve everything? Too hot? Ice pack. Headache? Ice pack. Shin splints? Ice pack. What would we do without ice packs! An ice bath doesn't sound too nice, at all and I love ice haha! I can see why it is so beneficial for you though. A warm bath does sound so much better. Listening to how your body feels is a great tip, so important not to push yourself too much especially if you have had a little break! Foam rolling is something my sister told me I should do before I lift weights! Great tips!!! xx

    1. HAHA YESSS ice really came to save us from everything now that I think of it- I don't know what I'd do without ice packs, I rely on them so much! Ice baths are freeezzzinggg but feels so so good for your legs/body after a workout! It takes a lot of mental convincing to hop in the ice tub though. I really want to test out ice/hot baths and jumping between them - so curious to see how it'd help recovering first hand!

      YESS - your sister is so right! Think of it as massaging your muscles before they need to get to work :)