Shin Splints

Shin splints (also known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome) are a common sports injury affecting athletes who engage in lots of running. Caused by repeated trauma (overuse) to the connective muscle tissue surrounding the tibia, it results in pain along the shinbone (tibia). Left untreated, shin splints may result in a stress fracture of the bones in the lower leg.

Most commonly, shin splints appear when an athlete increases the intensity and duration of their activity too quickly. They also appear frequently in athletes who stop and start suddenly, as in tennis, basketball, and soccer. The tendons and muscles are unable to absorb the impact of the shock and so become fatigued, transferring the impact to the connective tissue which becomes overloaded.

Symptoms of shin splints

  • Tenderness, soreness, dull, aching pain in front of lower leg
  • Mild swelling in lower leg
  • Pain may appear only during exercise at first, but will become consistent as injury worsens

Causes of Shin Splints

  • Biomechanical irregularities in the foot, ankle, or leg
  • Increasing intensity of workout too quickly after period of inactivity
  • Muscle imbalance or inflexibility of calf muscles
  • Athletic shoes which don’t fit properly or provide sufficient shock absorption
  • Stress fractures in lower leg
  • Excessive pronation
  • Exercising on hard surfaces
  • Running downhill
  • Engaging in sports with frequent stops and starts
  • Increasing intensity of activity too quickly
  • Poor running form (leaning too far forward or backward)