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Shin Splints Causes, How to Prevent it and Methods To Help with Pain

Updated on August 2, 2014

What Are Shin Splints?

Shin Splints is a generic term often used to describe pain around the lower front part of the leg. It is often associated with pain in and around the anterior tibialis and medially as well. In others words mostly you feel it on the front, inside portion of your lower leg in and around the bone, You may also hear some physiotherapist refer to it as medial tibia stress syndrome or MTSS.

Guy Running
Guy Running | Source

What Causes Shin Splints

Some of the causes of Shin splints may be caused by:

  1. a sudden increase in activity
  2. poor footwear
  3. completely the wrong footwear
  4. type of running surface
  5. a lengthy training that involves jumping
  6. or sudden stop and go.

It is often noticed in people that are involved in activities such as running, jumping, soldiers marching, and may be caused from excessive running or hiking down hill. Studies have shown that performing the above mentioned activities on hard surface as well can lead to pain. Lastly a person who has flat feet or a very rigid and high arch may have shin splints as well.

Pain and Taking it Slowly

The pain is generally a dull aching pain over the front anterior aspect of the tibia and can be sore when touched or when your foot is dorsiflexed, (which means toes off the ground and foot facing up. Rest and ice can help and for many people taking the time to perform very light dynamic ankle rotation and movements help recovery time. For some the pain may have been associated with simply too much too soon, such as deciding to run 5k again after an extended period of time off. Or by increasing the amount of plyometrics jumps done in your training. By taking the time to re-train your body slowly and allowing for time to adapt you will be amazed at your outcome. Also don’t forget to wear proper footwear for the activity your are performing and don't neglect to take the time to perform a proper warm up and stretching protocol.

How do you deal with sore shins?

See results

Improve Recovery and Decrease Pain

  • Stretching the calf muscles which are made up of the gastrocs and the soleus muscle.
  • Increasing your foot muscles. In particular those that act on the arch of the foot.
  • Training lower body proprioception.
  • Working the anterior and posterior tibialis. Once pain and swelling is gone, you should be able to begin working these muscles out again and increase their endurance and strength.
  • Purchasing proper footwear and / or insoles may help. This could improve the degree of pain as well since your feet will keep their arch.
  • Lastly speak with a doctor or therapist if the pain is overwhelming or the pain does not seem to go away after a couple weeks


How Shin Splints May Be Diagnosed

Shin splints are often diagnosed during the examination with your physician or therapist. This usually entails a hands on approach that requires looking for tenderness and areas that are of a concern when touched or manipulated. There are also specialized scans that can be performed, but is generally not needed since these options can be expensive when performed and should only be done if needed. Although you can probably just feel the swelling or pain yourself. So don't be scared to gently touch around your shin splints to see how swollen they are if you can.

Remember nothing comes quick. Give it time and work on it, since usually when you try to rush the results you end up paying for it.


Hutson, M., & Speed, C. (Eds.). (2011). Sports injuries. OUP Oxford.

Strength & Conditioning Journal: October 2009 - Volume 31 - Issue 5 - pp 69-72

The prevention of shin splints in sports: a systematic review of literature

Shin Splint Treatment Techniques

© 2013 Sean Evans


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    • SoundNFury profile image

      Michael Valencia 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      I struggled with this problem back when I ran on a daily basis, and I cannot emphasize enough how much orthotic insoles helped me! Interesting and useful hub. Voted up!