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Running Well: Shin Splints

Posted Jul 22 2009 10:13pm

We are excited to kick off a new series in partnership with Sports Injury Clinic.

   This site has been a well used site by me over the last year as I have worked through various injuries.  It provides the right amount of detail about the injury and tips on treatment as well.   And while we hope you don' t have the need for the resources, we are pleased to offer articles in tips in the event you are dealing with a running injury.


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Shin splints is possibly the most common, and certainly the most well known ‘running injury’. However, the symptoms of shin splints are often confused with those of other lower leg injuries, such as compartment syndrome  [picture on right  compliments of]


The symptoms of shin splints usually include:

Ø     Diffuse pain at the front of the lower leg, to the inside of the shin bone (pain on the outside of the bone is more Shin splints likely a compartment syndrome)

Ø     Pain which is worst at the start of the exercise and often eases throughout

Ø     Pain may then return after exercise or the next morning

Ø     As the condition becomes worse, pain will become more constant

Ø     The area to the inside of the shin bone may be tender to touch

Ø     You may also feel small lumps within the muscles

Ø     Pain may be present when you stretch the shin muscles (i.e. point the toes away from you)

Ø     There may be mild swelling or redness

Shin splints pain is thought to be caused by inflammation of the periostium of the tibia (sheath surrounding the bone). Traction forces on the periosteum from the muscles of the lower leg cause shin pain and inflammation.


Shin splints is an overuse injury. The symptoms develop over a period of time and gradually increase in severity if treatment is not sought. Overuse injuries can be caused by a number of factors, which are usually biomechanical issues, or training errors such as:

Ø     Overpronation

Ø     Oversupination

Ø     Increasing training too quickly

Ø     Running on pavements or other hard surfaces

Ø     Old trainers which have lost their cushioning

Ø     Tight calf muscles – limted ankle flexibility


The treatment of shin splints should begin as soon as possible after the injury has been detected:

Ø     Rest from any activity which causes pain

Ø     Apply ice to the area for 10 minutes at a time, up to every 2 hours

Ø     Take anti-inflammatory medication (always seek the advice of your Doctor first)

Ø     Once you can do so pain free, stretch the calf and shin muscles

Ø     Wear shock absorbing insoles if you oversupinate, or arch support insoles if you overpronate

Ø     Wear a compression support to help improve blood flow to aid healing

Ø     Buy new trainers if yours are very old!

To stretch your calf and shin muscles, always start with a gentle stretch and move further into the position as the stretching feeling fades. Hold stretches for at least 20 seconds and always repeat them 2-3 times and do this several times a day.

To stretch the calf muscles, stand facing a wall with a wide stance and the leg to be stretched at the back. Keep the heel flat on the floor and the knee straight as you lean forwards using your hands on the wall to balance you. This stretches the Gastrocnemius muscle, the largest of the 2 muscles at the bck of the lower leg. To stretch the smaller Soleus muscle, just bend the back knee slightly. You should then feel the stretch lower down the calf.

To stretch the shin muscles, kneel with the shins on the floor, sitting on your heels. Lean back to increase the stretch, or alternatively, use the hands to lift the knee just off the floor.

We always advise seeking professional treatment in order to return to your sport as soon as possible and free from pain! A professional sports injury specialist may also:

Ø     Use sports massage techniques to relax the muscles of the shin and calf

Ø     Tape the shin to take the strain off the muscles

Ø     Use ultrasound to ease pain and inflammation and promote healing

Ø     Devise a full rehabilitation program

For more information onShin Splints treatment, including a rehabilitation programme, exercise pictures and videos as well as massage demonstrations, please visit:

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