Share on Pinterest

We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome, occur when the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue surrounding the shinbones become inflamed. You may experience discomfort and soreness where the muscles connect to the bone along the front or inner edge of your shinbone, or tibia. The pain may be dull, sharp, or throbbing.

This often happens due to repetitive activities, overuse, and lack of variation in your fitness routine. Shin splints are common among athletes who play high-intensity sports that involve running and jumping, especially if they’re done on a hard surface.

People with flat feet and stiff arches are also prone to shin splints. Returning to exercise after a break or increasing the intensity or frequency of your workouts can also play a part.

Kinesiology therapeutic (KT) tape may help prevent and treat shin splints. KT tape may also help stabilize the muscle around the shin and improve blood flow. Using tape provides compression, which may help to boost circulation and reduce pain. You can use KT tape in conjunction with other healing modalities.

For maximum effectiveness, you must use proper taping techniques. Follow these instructions carefully and check in with a professional if you need guidance.

There are a few ways to do this. Here is a YouTube video from John Gibbons to give you an idea of how this works:

When taping, ensure the tape is rigid without being too tight or restrictive. To help the tape adhere to your skin, shave the affected area. This will also make it less uncomfortable to remove the tape. If you’re prone to skin allergies, do a skin patch test before use.

Other ways to tape your shins for support include:

Anterior

  1. Position the foot at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Start at the front of the ankle.
  3. Wrap the tape around the outside of the ankle up toward the inner calf at a 45-degree angle.
  4. Then pull the tape across to the inside of the leg.
  5. Do this 3 to 4 times.
  6. Secure the tape at the top and bottom.

Posterior

  1. Position the foot at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Secure the tape a few inches below the inside of the ankle.
  3. Pull the tape up along the inside of the leg.
  4. Place another piece of tape closer to the heel.
  5. Pull the tape up at an angle that curves toward the calf.
  6. Place another piece of tape above the heel.
  7. Pull the tape up along the back part of the leg.
  8. Place another piece of tape above the heel.
  9. Pull the tape across to the top of the foot and curve it to run along the front of the shin.
  10. Place another piece of tape an inch below the last piece of tape.
  11. Again, pull it across to the top of the foot and curve it to run along the front of the shin.
  12. Secure the tape at the top and bottom.

Lateral

  1. Position the foot at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Start at the inside front of the ankle and wrap the tape around the back of the ankle.
  3. Pull the tape up toward the outer calf and shin at a 45-degree angle.
  4. Do this 4 times.
  5. Secure the tape at the top and bottom.

To support arches

  1. Position your foot at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Place a 1/2 inch piece of felt along the longitudinal arch of your foot.
  3. Use prewrap to position the felt.
  4. Place strips of tape around your foot.
  5. At the same time, pull up gently on your arch.
  6. Place strips at the ball of your foot.
  7. Start at the top of your foot and wrap outward under your foot and up and across your arch.
  8. Do this 3 to 4 times.

Research shows that KT tape may help to improve function in people with shin splints. A small 2018 study found that KT tape was effective in reducing pain and improving hop distance in people with hyperpronation. The taping method was more effective than standard orthotics.

Kinesiology tape may improve circulation and muscle relaxation in the affected area, which helps reduce pain and discomfort. It may also support the affected area and ease pressure and tension on the muscles.

Using tape may also restrict unwanted movement, making you less likely to move in ways that lead to injury. Remember that the most important aspect of healing shin splints is rest. Limit your activity to give muscles the chance to recover. Choose low-impact activities if you don’t want to take a complete break from activity.

To prevent concerns and recurrences in the future, it’s ideal to treat shin splints as soon as they develop. Here are a few tips to aid in a speedy recovery:

  • Rest. Take as much time off as possible. Once you return to activity, start slowly. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. Cut back or take a break if your symptoms return.
  • Choose the correct footwear. Wear well-cushioned shoes that provide support and shock absorption. Replace sneakers every 3 to 6 months or after running 300 to 500 miles.
  • Do exercises and stretches. This helps to encourage healing and prevent further injury. Since shin splints can be related to other imbalances in your body, do stretches and exercises that target your whole body. This helps to increase muscle strength, range of motion, and flexibility.
  • Do self-massage. Use your hands, a foam roller, or a massage roller stick to gently apply pressure to the lower leg and foot muscles. This helps relieve tension in your lower body, boost circulation, and improve mobility. Avoid putting pressure directly on the shinbone.
  • Run on softer surfaces. Opt to run or exercise on grass, a track, or a treadmill to reduce the impact on your shins. Avoid pavement and tile floors as well as hills, as they can exacerbate symptoms.
  • Hot and cold therapy. Use a sauna or steam room to relieve muscular tension. Or take a hot shower or bath. To relieve pain and swelling, ice for 10 to 15 minutes after exercise.
  • Do low-impact activities. Balance intense workouts by cross-training with more gentle forms of exercise, especially during recovery. This includes swimming, cycling, and elliptical training.

You can buy KT tape at drugstores, retail stores, and sports stores. It’s also available online.

Compression products may help support your lower legs and reduce stress to the area. You can use compression sleeves, socks, or bandages.

Consider orthotics if you have flat feet or recurring shin splints. These shoe inserts relieve lower leg pressure and help to align and stabilize your ankles and feet. You can buy custom or over-the-counter orthotics.

Where to buy

You can buy all the products mentioned above online:

To prevent long-term issues, treat shin splints as soon as you develop symptoms. Depending on the severity and duration of your shin splints, it can take a few weeks or months to heal shin splints completely.

Talk to your doctor if you’ve taken measures to improve shin splints and they’re not healing or if you have chronic shin splints. You should also call your doctor if your shins are swollen, red, or hot to the touch. They can determine if another condition is responsible for your symptoms.

Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist who can help you develop healthy movement patterns and prevent overuse. They can also help you select the correct shoes.

With the correct approach, it’s possible to treat shin splints. It’s important to correct the causes of shin splints instead of focusing solely on symptom management. This may include building muscular strength and correcting misalignments.

Take a break from activity as often as necessary. Once you return to activity, start slowly and be aware of any recurring symptoms should they arise.

Consider using KT tape to support and reduce stress to your lower legs during workouts. For best results, combine the use of tape with other healing methods.

Talk to a doctor or physical therapist if you’d like extra guidance in using KT tape to prevent and heal shin splints. They’ll rule out any underlying conditions, examine your body for imbalances, and ensure you’re using proper form.