Do your shins ache or throb after running or physical exercise? You could have shin splints. Worry not! Read on to find out about shin splints symptoms, causes and treatment.

Picture of a woman running

What is shin splints?

Shin splints is pain or tenderness felt along the front of your shin bone (tibia) anywhere between the knee and ankle.

Your physiotherapist or GP may refer to the condition as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS).

It is very commonly occurring in runners, dancers and those in the military.

It is also extremely common in those who have recently increased training load, intensity or frequency. This is because it is largely linked with overuse and increased stress forces acting on the muscles of the shin bone.

Shin splints symptoms:

  • Tenderness, soreness or pain along the shin bone. 
    The pain is felt on the inside, outside or both of the shin bone

  • Soreness to touch

  • Minor swelling or redness of the skin

  • Pain with running or any activity
    In the initial stages pain will stop once the activity is discontinued. But in chronic cases, the pain will stop you from doing the activity

Shin splints causes:

  • Overuse 

    Exercising too much or beyond one’s ability can strain the muscles, tendons and bones. Also increasing training load intensity or frequency suddenly.

  • Flat feet

    The shin muscles play a role in maintaining the foot arch. Having flat feet can pull at the shin tendons causing increased sheering forces.

  • Incorrect running technique

    Poor running technique or form like letting the feet or knees roll in. Poor warm up or cool down habits can also play a role.

  • Running terrain

    The impact of hard surfaces like concrete or uneven surfaces . For example, sand or hills can also cause shin splints.

  • Running shoes

    Wearing old shoes that have no support will put more pressure on the muscles and bones.

  • Weak ankles, knees or hip

    Previous injuries and incomplete recovery in any of the joints above can also put tremendous pressure on the shin muscles and bones leading to shin splints.

Shin splints treatment:

Here are some tips for self management. However, if these tips do not help, it is important to see your Physiotherapist to prevent further aggravation and get back to exercising.

  • Relative rest from the aggravating activity
  • Ice to help reduce pain and inflammation
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Off the shelf orthotics can also help in supporting the arch

Shin splints treatment by our Physios:

Our Physiotherapists will use any of the following manual therapy techniques to treat your pain:

  • Soft tissue massage
  • Trigger pointing
  • Dry needling
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Advice on the correct running technique and shoes to wear.
  • Taping to help offload the shin bone and muscles
  • Activity modification regarding the type, frequency and load in order to allow full recovery