Shin splints refer to pain on the front, outer part of your shin that results from microtears in the muscles that surround the shin. They are more likely to occur in newer runners or those returning from extended time off, and are often related to a rapid increase in mileage, running on hard surfaces or inappropriate footwear. At the first sign of shin splints, it is best to back off on training mileage to a comfortable level and cross train with pool running, biking or elliptical until pain resolves and then increase mileage slowly according to the 10% rule. A physical therapist can help you to evaluate footwear, develop a training program with a safe increase in weekly mileage, teach you how to use elastic therapeutic taping to provide support to the shin muscles, and instruct you in exercises to strengthen muscles of the foot and lower leg. It is important to distinguish between shin splints and tibial stress fractures, as both can result in shin pain, however a stress fracture warrants immediate time off from running and weight bearing exercise for a minimum of 6-8 weeks to allow the bone to heal completely. Stress fractures are unlike a typical broken bone in that they don’t result from an acute injury but rather cumulative stress on the bone, usually from over-training.

Shin splints