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Shin Splints

Shin splints is the general term given to pain on our shins. This can be directly on the shin bone itself, pain on the inside of the shin (medial shin splints also known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome) or pain on the outside of the shin (lateral shin splints). There is much controversy around what shin splints actually are, whether it’s inflammation of muscles, tendons, bone tissue of the tibia or all of them together.

Signs and Symptoms

· Pain in the shin bone, lower leg between ankle and knee

· Pain experienced especially during and after physical exertion

· Pain that may be aggravated in cold weather.

Causes/Contributing factors

· Increase in load (this can be intensity and/or time)

· Increase in frequency

· Sudden change in training/activity (i.e. new shoes, change in terrain, training method, etc.)

· Muscle imbalances and poor mechanics

· Having wrong or poor fitting shoes for a particular activity


Due to the variation of causes of shin splints, treatment has to be specific to the injury.

Interestingly enough, despite all the controversy around shin splints, there is general agreement as to how we should treat shin splints within the medical community.

· Resting: this can be through a decrease load, adjusting training and/or stopping provocative activity altogether

· Stretching of the muscles involved

· Strengthening the muscles around the area

· Compression has been shown to improve symptoms in some cases

· NSAIDS (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) to decrease inflammation while treating the cause


· Stretching

· Gradual increase of exercise load

· Using correct training mechanics

· Wearing correct sporting equipment

It is important to note that not all shin pain is shin splints. There are other conditions that present with shin pain and may warrant medical attention and therefore it’s critical to get a correct diagnosis on your shin splints. These conditions are:

· Compartment syndrome

· Stress fracture

· Nerve referral

Please feel free to ask your physio any questions or contact us should you have any queries.

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