Medial shin splints are usually caused by excessive pronation or flat feet and often by pounding from running, or sports like tennis, volleyball, and other weight-bearing activities. If you have medial shin splints and flat feet a full length over-the-counter arch support can sometimes be helpful.
Lateral shin splints or anterior shin splints can be caused by suddenly increased speed or elevation. If you suddenly increase speed or elevation the muscle gets overworked and starts to cramp.
Treatment for shin splints includes rest, massage, ice, stretching, and strengthening. Rest and ice is sometimes the best treatment. You should also be stretching your calves and Achilles tendon. If you have the problem during running or walking, try warming up more and increase your speed slowly.
To stretch your calves:
- Lean against a wall with one leg forward and the knee bent
- Keep the rear leg straight, heel on the floor
- Keep your back straight and lean your hips forward until you stretch in your calf. If you don't feel it too much, put your toe of the rear leg up on a tree limb, or dumbbell, or any other small object, so that you bend the ankle more. Your heel always remains on the floor. That will increase the stretch
- To stretch the soleus muscle and Achilles (very important for shin splints), do the same calf stretch but bend the back knee slightly and you will feel the pull on your Achilles tendon