Shin Splints: What are the Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Shin splints are a common type of musculoskeletal injury that affects athletes and individuals who engage in strenuous physical activities such as running, jumping, or other types of high-impact activities. This injury is caused by overworking and overstressing the muscles in the lower legs, specifically the tibialis anterior muscle.

Symptoms of shin splints include pain in the lower legs, tenderness, and swelling. The tibia, located in the lower leg, can be the source of discomfort. This pain can be attributed to a multitude of causes.

In this article, we will discuss the causes of shin splints, treatment options, and prevention techniques.

Causes of Shin Splints

Shin splints are usually caused by repetitive stress on the tibia bone and the surrounding leg muscles. This can result in microtrauma to the bone and soft tissues, which leads to pain and inflammation. The most common causes of shin splints include:

  1. Overuse: Overuse of the muscles and bones in the lower leg can lead to shin splints and potentially a stress fracture. This is common in athletes who engage in high-impact activities like running and jumping. To prevent overuse, add extra rest days to your weekly schedule. This is a simple and effective way to help your body recover.

  2. Muscle Imbalances: Muscle imbalances in the lower leg can also lead to shin splints. For example, weak ankle muscles or tight calf muscles can put extra stress on the tibia bone. Muscle imbalances can also occur when your running activity levels are high but you are not providing the area with proper muscle maintenance.

  3. Worn out Footwear: Wearing shoes that are worn out or do not provide adequate support can lead to shin splints. As a general rule, active runners should replace their sneakers every 4 to 6 months. This applies if they are running 20 miles a week, on average.

  4. Running Technique: Poor running techniques, such as over-striding or heel-striking, can be harmful. Excessive stress can be put on the tibia bone, leading to pain along the shin bone.

Treatment Options for Shin Splints

Treatment options depend on the severity of the injury. To figure out what treatment option you should do I would suggest going to your doctor and getting it diagnosed first. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the doctor must first rule out a Tibial bone stress fracture. This is normally done with the use of X-rays or an MRI machine.

A stress fracture to the tibialis


Treatment options to alleviate symptoms can range depending on severity, some of which you can do on your own. However, in more severe cases, medical attention may be necessary. Here are some of the more common treatment options:

  1. Resting the affected leg is essential to prevent injuries of all types that come from athletic performance. This means temporarily avoiding activities that put stress on the tibia bone, such as running and jumping.

  2. Sports Massage is a great treatment for tight muscles. Reducing muscular tension can reduce leg pain. Releasing the fascia can help to reduce pain and swelling in the affected area. To take advantage of this, seek out a sports massage therapist and experience the benefits of Sports Massage.

  3. Stretching exercises can help improve flexibility, along with providing self-massage via foam rolling. Shin foam rolling typically uses a Tennis Ball. I created a video last year to teach you how to do it. Doing both stretching and self-massage can reduce muscle imbalances in the lower leg. This increases your range of motion and helps prevent tightness.

  4. Using orthotic inserts or wearing shoes that provide adequate support can help alleviate symptoms of shin splints.

Prevention of Shin Splints

Prevention of shin splints involves taking steps to reduce the risk of developing the injury. Here are some prevention techniques for shin splints:

  1. Proper Footwear: Wearing shoes that fit properly and provide adequate support is essential in reducing the pain associated with the pain of shin splints. In my experience, the newer sneakers that are made for running (such as Asics & Hoka) tend to be the best. However, if you wanted to know more I would suggest looking at a sneaker review like this one by Run Trails.

  2. Gradual Progression: Gradually increasing the intensity and duration of our exercise routine can help reduce the risk. If you're just getting back into running or running for the first time you need to progress your training.

  3. Cross-Training: Engaging in low-impact activities like swimming or biking can help reduce the stress on the tibia bone. Taking time off is an option. If you still want to do cardio without the impact of running, consider cross-training.

  4. Stretching and strengthening exercises are important for maintaining healthy muscles and reducing potential injuries in the lower leg. Regular stretching can help improve muscle flexibility, reduce muscle tension, and reduce the risk of muscle imbalances; while strengthening exercises can help build muscle strength and endurance. They can also improve balance and stability. Plus, the exercises can reduce the risk of muscle strains, sprains, and tears. 

  5. Improving your running technique can reduce stress on the tibia bone. This includes shortening stride length and increasing cadence.


Shin splints can be a debilitating injury that affects athletes and individuals who engage in physical activities. The causes of shin splints are varied, and treatment options depend on the severity of the injury. Rest, ice, massage, and stretching exercises can help alleviate symptoms of shin splints. Prevention of shin splints involves taking steps to reduce the risk of developing the injury, such as wearing proper footwear, gradually increasing physical activity, and improving running technique.

It is essential to seek medical attention if you are having shin splint symptoms. Do not carry on with physical activity that causes pain & discomfort. With proper treatment and prevention techniques, you can recover from shin splints and get back to your active lifestyle. If you need a sports massage treatment for your shin splints, then hop on our website and schedule a Sports Massage.

In summary, shin splints are a widespread affliction that plagues many athletes and people who are frequently active. Gaining knowledge about shin splints is beneficial. We should learn what causes them, what therapies are available, and how to prevent them. This will help us recover from shin splints and stop them from happening again in the future.