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Shin Splints


  • Overuse injury common in running and jumping activities
  • Poor biomechanics
  • Tightness in the calf muscles
  • Poor footwear
  • Sudden pain in the inner part of the shin
  • Pain when resuming activity
  • Inability to bear weight on the injury
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Aching and stiffness
  • RICE method
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Strengthening and stretching exercises

What are Shin Splints?

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (shin splints) occurs when the connective tissue that connects muscle to the shin bone (tibia) becomes damaged or inflamed due to excessive strain or force being placed on the area. The most common cause of shin splints is through overuse, causing excess strain to be put on the connective tissue which is often seen in patients who partake in running and jumping sports. This injury can also be common in patients who have poor biomechanics such as overpronation (rolling of the foot) or supination (high foot arch) and also as a result of wearing poorly fitting and unsupportive footwear. Often individuals who have tight calf muscles are also susceptible to shin splints.

Shin Splints Symptoms

Patients who suffer calf strain are likely to feel pain in the inner part of the shin which gradually becomes more apparent through continued activity. When the injury is caused by sudden pressure or force to the area, pain will usually come on suddenly at the point of injury. This pain often accelerates after a period of rest and patients are likely to feel aching and stiffness which becomes more apparent first thing in the morning and often the area will feel a weak, making the patient unable to resume activity. Bearing weight on the injury may become difficult and therefore some individuals walk with a limp when with this injury.

Shin Splints Diagnosis

In order to diagnose calf strain, a doctor or physiotherapist will give an examination of the area. Often a doctor will carry out an X-ray or MRI scan in order to confirm the diagnosis and also to rule out any further complications.

Shin Splints Treatment

In order to treat shin splints, rest is crucial in order to allow the injury time to heal and to prevent any further activity which could cause damage or discomfort to the injury. Applying ice to the injury is an important aspect of healing as it will reduce any swelling and inflammation as well as providing cooling pain relief to the injury. Using the RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation) is beneficial for the first 72 hours of the injury occurring as it will reduce swelling to the area and by keeping the injury elevated blood flow is restricted which can prevent further inflammation. Anti-inflammatory medications can also be taken in order to reduce swelling as well as relieving pain or aching feelings from the injury. When the injury has begun healing and patients are advised by a physiotherapist or doctor, it is important for individuals to undergo a rehabilitation program such as strengthening and stretching exercises which will keep the area strong and make it easier to return to sports once the injury has fully recovered. These exercises should not be carried out if the patient feels pain in the area and the advice of a physiotherapist should always be sought in order to obtain an exercise regime suitable for the individual.