Shin Splints

This term has been used to describe any pain between the knee and ankle on the front of the shin. The pain associated with shin splints is usually of a soft tissue origin involving microtears of muscle tissue (tibialis posterior and/or tibialis anterior) and/or chronic avulsion of the periosteal-fascial junction.

Biomechanical Causes:

  • Prolonged or excessive pronation (flattened arch) of the foot places extra strain on the muscles controlling forefoot pronation (shin muscles; tibialis anterior and posterior) and rear foot pronation (medial one-half of soleus).
  • Increased strain on a muscle can lead to damage at any point along the muscle including the site of origin on the bone
  • Local fatigue of tibialis anterior and posterior due to extra strain decreases their ability to act as “shock absorbers” during weight bearing consequently transferring the stress directly to the tibia (shin bone).
  • Over striding, placing extra strain on the tibialis anterior and posterior.

Muscular Causes:

  • Inflexibility of the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) decrease ankle flexibility.
  • Progressively intense training program may be the cause of increased muscle strain.

Other Causes:

  • Training surfaces. Walking, running and jumping on hard surfaces places extra strain on the tibialis anterior and posterior and subsequently stress may be transferred to the tibia.
  • Footwear. Shoes may not provide adequate shock absorption and foot control.

The main symptom is an aching pain felt on or around the tibia. Pain is initially felt only on exertion (i.e. towards the end of a run, but if more severe can progress to earlier during activity, on walking and even at rest.


  • Control of prolonged/excessive forefoot and/or rear foot pronation with orthotic devices.
  • Modification of training sessions to meet physiologic conditioning of the tibilias anterior, posterior-and soleus.
  • Substitution of the detrimental activity with alternative activity to achieve training effect but decrease strain on damaged tissue.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication /physiotherapy treatment for reduction of inflammation and pain.
  • Alternative training surfaces.
  • Selection of a shoe that provides adequate shock absorption and forefoot/rear foot control.
  • Flexibility exercises for gastrocnemius and soleus.
  • Ice, massage along the shin

  ankle2.jpgGastrocnemius Stretch

  • Purpose: To stretch the long calf muscle
  • Correct Position: Place the leg to be stretched behind the front leg. Keep the knee straight and heel on the ground. Toes should be pointed straight ahead on both feet. The front leg should be bent, hands against the wall and hips square to the wall. lean into the stretch which should be felt behind the back of the straight knee and upper calf.

  ankle3.jpgSoleus Stretch

  • Purpose: To stretch the shorter and deeper calf muscles.
  • Correct Position: Same as the first stretch but the back knee is bent slightly. The stretch should be felt lower down in the calf. Keep the back heel in contact with the floor.

  shin.jpgAnterior Shin Stretch

  • Purpose: To stretch the front of the shin.
  • Correct Position: In an upright, seated position, point foot down on the ground.

Stretches should be held for 15 to 20 seconds and done 3 to 5 times on each side before and after workouts