7 Best Shin Splint Compression Sleeves and Support Braces
Shin splints, also known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS), are one of the most common leg and overuse injuries among athletes.
According to research, shin splints make up a staggering 60% of all lower leg injuries, out of which 9,5% are runners .
The recovery time is varying and may range anywhere from 4 to 18 weeks [1, 2].
As with many other injuries, the risk of reinjury is much higher in individuals with a history of MTSS, compared to those without a history .
This is why it’s so important that you provide yourself with optimal support and protection for your shins.
In this article, we will discuss the cause of shin splints, how you should treat the injury, and what exercises you can do to prevent future injuries. We will also provide you with a list of high-quality shin splint compression sleeves and support braces.
Compression Sleeves and Brace Review for Shin Splints
McDavid Calf Compression Sleeve 441
This sleeve from McDavid is specifically designed to reduce pain related to shin splints, calf strains and varicose veins (enlarged and twisted veins).
The thermal compression and extra strong seam offer additional support for soft tissue such as tendons, ligaments, and muscles while also aiding you in recovering from injury.
As for durability, the sleeve is equipped with solid nylon fabric that makes it last longer and able to put with more force.
Pro-Tec Shin Splint Compression Wrap
The Pro-Tec wrap was developed to reduce pain and discomfort associated with shin splints and in particular anterior shin splints.
Anterior shin splints occur towards the outside of the leg, while other forms of shin splints may affect the inside of the shin. This is where the Pro-Tec wrap comes really handy since you can choose to wear the wrap either in an upper or lower position of the tibia (the shin bone).
By providing slight pressure on the ligaments and muscles around the tibia, it prevents further tearing of these soft tissues, absorbs stress and reinforces your healing process.
Shock Doctor Calf/Shin Wrap 857
Recommended for athletes with mild to moderate pain from shin splints and calf strains, the Shock Doctor calf/shin wrap comes with integrated shin support pads that contributes with targeted healing pressure.
The multi-strap system is adjustable which means that you can customize the level of compression you desire. The wrap is also equipped with spandex binding, making it more comfortable and higher in durability.
Additionally, the N-tex vented moisture-wicking neoprene offers therapeutic warmth and improves blood circulation.
2XU Compression Calf Guards
If you’re looking to provide your calf and shins more support without feeling restricted by bulky protection, then the 2XU Compression Calf Guards might just be the right fit for you.
Made from flexible compression fabric, this product is both lightweight, high in breathability, and extremely comfortable.
More importantly, it prevents shin splints and reduces fatigue in your lower legs by decreasing muscle oscillation, which is vibration of muscles caused by repetitive impact loading.
As a bonus, they are are also antibacterial and equipped with Ultraviolet Protection Factor 50+ sun protection, protecting your lower legs from getting burned.
Copper Joint Calf Compression Sleeves
Designed with a combination of durable nylon/spandex and copper ions, this lightweight sleeve fits like a second skin while providing you with improved mobility and flexibility.
The sleeve gives just the right amount of compression, helping you to quicker recovery while reducing pain and soreness associated with shin splints, tight calves, muscle cramps and varicose veins.
Equipped with technology to keep your muscles warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot, there’s less risk for numbness and cramping.
BioSkin Compression Calf Sleeve
Made from durable, thin and breathable hypoallergenic material (free from neoprene and latex), BioSkin has aimed to create a sleeve that boosts performance and enhances your recovery during injury and after hard workouts.
Providing medical-grade compression, it eases pain from shin splints and calf strains, increases circulation and helps your legs to stay fresh, even after long distance running.
Word of advice, this sleeve is very compressive so be prepared to give it some time to break in.
SKINS Unisex Essentials Compression MX Calf Tight
Compared to the other compression sleeves and support braces that we have presented so far, SKINS stands out with a more distinct and bold look.
If that doesn’t set you off, this is a very well-constructed product that prevents injury by offering support to the whole lower leg.
Furthermore, it reduces lactic acid build-up and causes less muscle oscillation, which decreases the risk of triggering stress fractures.
The material used is moisture wicking, keeping you comfortable and dry.
What you should look for
As with any other sports equipment, you obviously want to make sure that you get as much value as possible for the money you invest.
This means that you want to look for trustworthy labels that are associated with high-quality and have received good reviews from other users.
In this article, that’s precisely what we have done for you.
Whether you’re looking to add shin support for running, injury prevention, muscle soreness, stress fractures, or just want to enhance your performance, we’ve listed a variety of options.
But first, let’s go through what features you need to consider before making a purchase.
Regardless if you participate in a sport on amateur level, compete, or just like to exercise and be physically active, you want gear that you can count on and that can keep you protected for the long run.
It should be able to withstand hard terrains, cold weather, extensive heat, and external force, without breaking up or decreasing in quality over time.
By selecting a product made out of strong and resistant material, you’ll avoid having to worry about loosing compression or that the stitching will tear from washing.
Fit and Comfort
Besides from quality, fit and comfort are by far the most crucial attributes to look for when choosing your next compression sleeve, support brace or shin wrap.
To get the right fit, make sure that you measure your calves so that you can select the optimal size for your legs. If possible, ask for advice in a sports store or by consulting with an online retailer.
By doing so, you can get valuable feedback about how your needs might change during activity.
For example, if you sweat a lot and your legs tend to swell when exposed to heat, you might want to consider getting a bigger size than you normally would.
This also leads us to the importance of picking a sleeve with breathable fabric, so that you can stay cool, dry and focused on your performance.
Although compression sleeves should never work as a supplement for proper injury rehabilitation or strength and stability training programs, they can provide you with that extra support which will allow you to feel more confident.
For those individuals who have suffered from repeated shin splints or athletes who participate in highly physically demanding sports, protection might be the main priority.
However, if you don’t have a history of injuries and merely want to boost your performance by increasing circulation and preventing cramps, a thinner and more lightweight compression sleeve could be enough.
Again, it all comes down to your individual preferences and the using purpose.
Shin Splint Causes
Shin Splints or MTSS are normally caused by extended overuse and overloading of your shinbone, also known as the tibia. The injury is characterized by pain and soreness on the front or inside of your lower leg.
Usually, the pain is most severe right at the start of an activity before your body is warmed up. It then decreases during the activity, before returning once you cool down.
These kind of movements are in the high risk zone for shin splints since they tend to result in fatiguing muscles and ligaments, especially if you don’t provide your body with sufficient recovery in between your training sessions.
Shin Splint Treatment
If you are hit by shin splints, the first thing you should do is to decrease the training volume, rest and temporarily switch over to activities that doesn’t put as much stress on tibia, such as swimming or bicycling.
The rest may beneficially be combined with applying ice to cool down the damaged area, following the RICE protocol.
Additionally, it’s important that you set aside time for both warm-up and stretching.
Research shows that proper warm-up and stretching contribute to both physiological and physical benefits, including increased blood flow to your tissues, reduced risk of injury and improved flexibility .
Ideally, stretching should take place within 15 minutes prior to the activity while the warm-up should last around 10 minutes with an intensity that produce mild sweating without fatigue, approximately 40-60% of your VO2max .
For optimal results, these routines should be a long-term part of your exercise routine.
If the injury still gets worse, we recommend that you consult with a physiotherapist that can help you with a tailored rehabilitation program.
Shin Splint Exercises
Regardless what sport or type of exercising you perform, working on improving and strengthening your muscles are crucial for injury prevention.
Below, we have listed a few exercises that can help you to reduce the risk of shin splints.
Standing Calf Raises
1. Position yourself on the edge of an aerobic stepper or a stair step
2. Pull your abdominal in and let the front of your feet rest on the step, while your heels hang in the air
3. Slow raise your heels by pressing yourself upward on the tip of your toes
4. Hold this position for a 3-5 seconds and feel how your calves stretches
5. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat
1. Place your feet on a balance board
2. Tighten your core and keep your gaze focused
3. Slowly wiggle your body back and forth while trying to maintain your balance
4. Try to stay on the balance board for at least 30 seconds
If you find this exercise challenging, you can adjust the difficult level by slightly bending your knees or by lifting your arms in a lateral position.
Towel Toe Curls
1. Place a towel on a smooth surface
2. Position yourself in a chair in front of the towel and place your feet on top of it
3. Now, try to grab the towel with your toes and slowly pull it towards the base of the chair, before moving it back to the starting position and releasing it
With the sports equipment market blooming with endless of options, it can be difficult to find the right compression sleeve or support brace for you.
For this reason, it’s essential that you first get a professional opinion on your shin splint diagnosis from a physiotherapist or strength coach.
Once they have helped you to further identify your specific needs, this guide is good next step to get a grasp of what brands and models are available.
With that said, remember that well-planned training, sufficient recovery and proper nutrition always beats equipment.
If you want to perform at the best of your ability, these are all these factors that you need to take into consideration.
References & Further Reading
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