How to Stretch and Ice Shin Splints: DIY Ice Ball Tutorial

Stretching and ice can be very helpful in reducing the pain and irritation that runners experience with shin splints. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to reach the right muscles. With inner shin splints (medial tibial stress syndrome) the involved muscles sit behind the shin bone, and are covered by the larger calf muscles. 

Here is an easy way to effectively ice and stretch shin splints, using just a few common items: 

Materials 

  • 2 plastic bags (grocery bags work well)
  • 2-3 cups of ice (enough to fill a protein shaker bottle)
  • Tape (cloth athletic or medical work best, but any kind will do)
  • 1 or 2 painful shins!

Ice Ball Instructions

  • Pour the ice into the corner of one bag, squeeze out any air, and tie off the bag
  • Double bag the ice ball and tie off the second bag
  • Wrap the tape around the perimeter of the ball, overlapping several layers
  • Squeeze the ice around in your hands like you were packing a snowball for 30 seconds to start the melting process

Stretch Instructions

  • Sit on the ground with knees bent and feet flat on the ground
  • Locate a painful spot along the inner shin bone(s)
  • Place the ice ball between your shins at this spot and hug your knees together to compress the ice into the shin muscles until you feel mild but familiar shin discomfort
  • Lift and lower your ankles to stretch the shin muscles under the ice ball pressure. Keep your heels on the ground and your knees hugged together to keep the ice in place. 
  • Repeat ankle repetitions for about a minute, then move the ice ball up or down to any other tender spots you find. Total time: 5-10 minutes. 
  • Perform the ice ball stretch before and after runs or painful activities, and again at the end of the day. 

Tip: A little discomfort is to be expected, but the pain should begin to ease up as you do the reps. If pain increases, this might not be the right technique for you, or you may have a different injury. 

See the video tutorial here:

DIY Ice Ball

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Do you having shin splints that keep coming back? Muscle imbalances, stuck joints, or improper running technique could be causing the problem. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at team@alphapnr.com.