A combination of these three approaches will usually help most people recover from shin splints and experience less pain:
1. Active Rest is the first mode of treatment for all types of shin splints. "Active rest" does not mean you must stop running or exercising. Many people make the mistake of not exercising for many weeks and then attempting the same distances that got them into trouble the first time. Rather, rest should be active to relieve stress on painful areas, yet maintain your conditioning. Completely stopping activities may give temporary relief, but injuries are likely to resurface with resumed activity, especially if you are trying to make up for lost time.
Active rest activities include low-impact exercises like the elliptical trainer, stationary cycling, and swimming. Try any activity that doesn't involve the same muscles as running, and that doesn't require repetitive impact on hard surfaces. “Water running” is another effective way to rehab these injuries: Use a flotation device and run in the deep end of a pool. You can move to the shallow end, running on the bottom, as your pain begins to improve.
Remember, the human body is truly remarkable in its ability to adapt, BUT it prefers to adapt to gradual changes over time. With slow, steady progress, your muscles, tendons and other soft tissues will better adapt to the stresses you are asking of it.
2. Ice can be very helpful during the acute phases of your pain. This is especially true if your shin splints are accompanied by redness, localized tenderness, or swelling. Try an ice massage by holding an ice cube in a washcloth and rubbing the swollen, sore area for 10 to 15 minutes. Another trick of the trade is to use a bag of frozen vegetables.
Remember not to exceed 10 to 15 minutes each time you ice, and always wrap ice cubes, frozen veggies, and store-bought gel ice in a towel or washcloth to avoid burns and frostbite. You can repeat icing every few hours as needed.
3. Stretching and strengthening the calf muscles can help prevent and treat shin splints. Here are some stretches that will target this area. (Hold each stretch for 10-15 seconds, repeating 2-3 times.)