Cold Therapy for Shin Splints

Shin splints, more commonly referred to as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), are an even more infuriating experience when we consider that shin splint cures can actually be exceptionally easy! There are various foolproof treatment plans available today, including an extremely popular method that involves cold packs and other little known treatments. Thankfully, using a cold pack as part of your treatment plan is one option that is both inexpensive and easily accessible for anyone at home or in the clinic!

Although MTSS treatments appear mostly simple on the surface, it's usually best to consult with your physician or healthcare professional to make sure you're doing things correctly.

Cold Therapy for Shin Splints

Shin splints are a common ailment caused by overuse. They tend to appear after repeated stress and pressure on the shins, which eventually leads to inflammation. Many athletes suffer from the injury due to their intense sport routines - basketball players, dancers and runners are among the most susceptible. If you begin getting shin splints, there are two main treatments that can help you recover: cold therapy (using cold packs) or hot therapy with a Microwavable Aromatherapy Hot/Cold Sack.

When cold is applied to the skin for periods at a time, it causes vasoconstriction or tightening of blood vessels. When vessels are constricted, less blood flow moves through them, reducing inflammation and pain in the area. Cold therapy is one great treatment option when used in conjunction with rest, compression, stretching and advice from a sports medicine professional, as well as some ice packs or cooling gel packs depending on your circumstances as an individual.

Is it Better to use Heat or cold for Shin Splints?

In the early stages of shin splints, it's best to give the muscles and tissue a cold pack. cold therapy will help with the inflammation related to this condition, as well as alleviate any pain associated with these symptoms. Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory which may also be prescribed by your doctor. Choose a brand guaranteed to not upset your stomach or affect its ability to absorb necessary nutrients after injury. It's also important to wear compression sleeves, as they take some pressure off your lower leg so that it can heal properly.

After the initial injury phase has passed, about three days, you can apply heat to your lower leg with things like herbal heating pads or hot towels. The heat will bring more blood to the area and loosen tight muscles.

When is Cold Therapy Not an Option?

Think of cold therapy as a Band-Aid, is not the cure. It will cover up the pain, but it's not the ultimate way to treat shin splints. You need to look at your injury comprehensively, and not just one area. You must treat it from multiple modalities to overcome it completely.

The shinsplints are common and can be extremely painful, causing various symptoms - from mild pain to debilitating swelling and inflammation. There are various options when treating shin splints, such as steroids, injections or medications - but what type is right for you? To find the treatment that best suits your needs, consider speaking with your doctor. If you have decided to add cold therapy to your daily routine, make sure not to use if you are experiencing any contraindications indicated by cold therapy use:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Neuropathy
  • Diabetes
  • Dermatitis
  • Vascular disease
  • Cold Therapy Techniques


When you're suffering from shin splints, it's natural to try to find the best way to relieve the pain and swelling. You could go through all the options on your own, or consult a health or physical therapist to help you narrow down what might work best for you. While some methods of delivery simply don't offer as much relief as others due to how inconvenient they are, some may be more helpful than others when it comes to getting rid of inflammation in the tissue.

Cold Pack

When most people think of healing a fractured shin, they will first and foremost reach for a cold pack. cold packs are reusable freeze-able gel, often contained in a bag that you can simply place on your leg, and it will do the job fine. You'll be looking for a cold pack that remains stretchy when frozen, so you can easily slip it over your calf to ease off the pain. cold therapy packs are a great staple for any injury to the shins, regardless of whether it's broken or otherwise.

Massage Balls

If you ever feel pain on your lower legs due to shin splints, try using massage balls as a portable option that you can use on the go. You might be surprised at how effective they are in relieving this condition by not just delivering cold therapy, but by also providing trigger point massage. Using these methods can help in combination with anyone suffering from shin splints.

Ice Therapy Machine

If you need some serious cold therapy treatments to help relieve inflammation and pain due to shin splints, then you should explore purchasing a Cold Therapy Machine. This machine is not portable like most other ice packs, but it will relieve the painful area along with your leg muscles more effectively than an ice pack, as it can deliver constant cold. It comes equipped with an ergonomic pad (which contours to the body), secured using adjustable straps, and has a water tank where one can fill with either ice or cold water. The water passes through tubes from the tank to the foam pad at a steady rate of your preference.

Topical Gel

One of the best features of a topical cooling gel is that it’s portable! Since topical gels cool the skin and reduce muscle pain, you can apply them to your calves for about 30 minutes of relief wherever you are. Look for something easy to use, like a spray or gel, that won’t stain clothing in an effort to help you deal with stinging, tingling or cramping anywhere on your body quick and easy.

Ice Bath

A simple way to get around this is by turning your shower into an ice bath - it may not be the most portable form of icing, but it’s definitely one of the easiest! By filling up a medium-sized container (like a big bucket) with cold water and lots of ice cubes, you can secure your lower leg with ice for 20 minutes at a time and reap all the benefits that come with it.

Using Ice + Massage for Shin Splints

A combination of ice therapy and massage make up the ultimate way to treat shin splints in a pain free manner. Ice is most effective when it comes to numbing peripheral nerves, reducing inflammation and promoting blood flow. These factors make ice perfect for those with shin pain. Massaging tight muscles can reduce stress levels, which sometimes inhibit your range of motion. By relieving muscle tension, you can also relieve shin splints pain. One of the main reasons loose muscles contribute to shin splint pains is due to adhesions that form in the muscle tissue and surrounding connective tissues. Not working these out regularly through gentle relaxation techniques could mean painful cramps down the road.

Deep tissue massage is something you can do for yourself at home. However, if this is out of your expertise or comfort zone, it’s recommended you seek the help of a professional who can bring deep tissue massage to you, whether in a salon or on location, such as your own office.

Icing Safely & Effectively

Be sure to speak with a medical professional before icing your shin splints, because when done incorrectly, icing can lead to serious injury. cold packs, ice wraps, cold baths and other methods of cold therapy deliver a numbing pain common for people suffering from shin splints. These treatments can help you heal faster, so you can return to all the activities you love.


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