Shin Splints a brief overview

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Christie Rourke

Shin Splints a brief overview

Posted by Christie Rourke 1090 Days Ago


This is an umbrella term for pain/injury in the shin area. There are three causes for this, and each will present differently.

The muscle down the front of the shin is called the Tibialis Anterior. This muscle is responsible for lifting (dorsiflexing) the foot at the ankle, allowing it to swing through before it plants during gait.

This muscle can become overused and cause inflammation along it's attachment to the Tibia (shin bone). This is called Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome. The pain often eases during a run and returns after the muscle has cooled.

Then there is compartment syndrome. A build up of pressure within or between muscles can cause pain and tightness and this usually gets worse during a run.

Lastly; the Tibia can have hairline fractures down the shaft, causing pain. This will prevent running. Night pain is also a feature of bone fractures.


Treating shin splints can be difficult until the cause is known. Sometimes terrain, footwear or biomechanics are at fault. Often it is a mixture of these.

For Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome you should rest, ice then stretch the tibialis anterior (stretching when the muscle is warm and not straight after icing). Progressive return to run programs are advised, monitoring for any set backs rather than running through these.

It is important to change any factors such as old/incorrect footwear, or overloading training schedules to prevent it from reoccurring.

Compartment syndrome will also need rest and ice initially. Addressing any factors at fault and if the pressure doesn't decrease, seeking help from a medical professional may be necessary to have the muscle/fascia released.

If fractures are causing pain, running and impact activities should be ceased and anti-inflammatories can slow the healing of bone, so should also be avoided. Healing can take a long time and more gentle weight bearing activities should be continued as pain allows.