Vitamins for Shin Splints: Choose the Right Supplements
Published April 5, 2023.
Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome, occur when the muscle and connective tissue surrounding the shin bone become inflamed. This condition is characterized by pain along the anterior edge of the tibia, tenderness, swelling, and tightness or muscle weakness.
Shin splints are common in those who participate in repetitive high-impact activities that affect the legs, such as dancing, running, and jumping. They can also result from a sudden increase in activity intensity or duration.
Treating shin splints as early as possible is essential for faster healing and preventing further complications, which can progress into stress fractures if left untreated. Pain relief can be achieved through icing, rest, insoles, change of footwear, and in some cases, physical therapy. Certain vitamins and supplements also aid in treating shin splints, as discussed below.
» Wondering if you have shin splints? Learn how to test yourself at home
Vitamin D is crucial for bone health, as it aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphate needed to build and maintain strong, healthy bones. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to weak and brittle bones, increasing the risk of stress fractures and other bone-related problems, including osteomalacia, which presents with bone pain, muscle weakness, and bone softening.
Dietary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, fish liver, egg yolks, and mushrooms. You can also obtain vitamin D from sun exposure and supplements. In patients with shin splints, vitamin D supplements may help prevent recurrence of tibial pain.
Vitamin A, when consumed in regular proportions, is vital for building strong and healthy bones. It plays a role in bone building and remodeling, maintaining bone tissue integrity, reducing inflammation, and regulating antibody production as part of the immune response.
Vitamin A deficiency negatively impacts bone health, increasing the risk of bone fractures, which may lead to tibial bone fracture and, consequently, shin splints. Natural sources of vitamin A include bell peppers, carrots, eggs, kale, liver, milk, spinach, and sweet potatoes. Vitamin A supplements are available but should be used as advised by your doctor, as excessive doses can be harmful.
Supplements for Shin Splints
In addition to vitamins A and D, other supplements, such as magnesium, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, collagen, and vitamin K, support bone health.
Magnesium regulates calcium levels in the body and is responsible for bone formation. Magnesium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures, as well as muscle and nerve twitching or cramps.
Magnesium can help speed shin splint recovery, prevent injuries, and reduce fatigue. Good sources of this nutrient include leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Calcium is essential for maintaining bone health and strength, as well as muscle contraction and function. Deficiency can lead to stress fractures or other injuries in the tibia, and cause cramps, muscle spasms, and weakness.
Strong bones can better absorb the shocks associated with running or walking. Calcium intake through natural sources or supplements can reduce the likelihood of shin splints and other related bone injuries. Dietary sources of calcium include dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, fruits, nuts, seeds, leafy vegetables, and fish.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for several physiological processes, including bone growth and maintenance, and have an anti-inflammatory effect. Generally, this nutrient is available in fatty fish, seafood, walnuts, and chia seeds.
Support Your Shins with the Right Supplements
While vitamins and supplements can support shin splint recovery by improving bone health, orthotics can directly help relieve pain symptoms. The best insoles for shin splints are customized to fit. Custom orthotics provide pain relief for shin splints by cushioning the feet, keeping them in proper alignment, supporting the foot arch, and ensuring optimal transfer of forces during activities.
If you’re unsure which insoles to use, Upstep’s custom orthotics are an excellent option. These medical-grade orthotics are customized to fit using the individual's foot specifications. Designed by seasoned podiatrists using superior quality materials, they guarantee comfort, stability, and foot alignment. In addition, Upstep orthotics are comparatively affordable and can be easily purchased through the Upstep store.