‘Shinsplints’ refers to medial tibial stress syndrome, an achy pain that results when small tears occur in the muscles around your tibia (shin bone). This makes up about 15% of running injuries.

Who’s at risk?

Shinsplints are common among new runners and those returning after an extended lay-off. They’re a sign that you’ve done too much too quickly. Shinsplints strike runners wearing the wrong shoe or a pair with too many kilometres, and those with high arches or flat feet.

Can you run through it?

When the first twinges of pain strike, back  off your running to a comfortable level for a few days to a week, then slowly up your mileage using the 10% rule – no more than a 10% increase per week). Bike, pool-run, and swim.

Rehab it

Rest, ice, and ibuprofen can ease the pain. Though conventional wisdom has preached calf stretching as a way to rehabilitate shinsplints, there’s little evidence that helps. Taping the shin with Kinesio Tex tape can relieve pain and speed healing. Wearing an air-cast ankle brace throughout the day, even while running, can speed recovery. These braces stabilise the ankle so the shin muscles don’t have to work so hard to support your leg.

Prevent a relapse

The easiest and best way to avoid shinsplints is to increase mileage gradually. Make sure you are in an appropriate shoe. Beginners, especially, can benefit from professional help at a speciality running shop. If you have high arches, you may need a cushioned shoe. Or if you have flat feet, a rigid shoe might be the solution.

Elite Treatment

Once or twice a month, jump into a game of touch rugby or soccer. The lateral movement uses your muscles differently than running in one direction. It’s helps manage shinsplints.

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Got something to say?

8 Responses to “Shinsplints”

  1. leah says:

    I am on week 9 of the shape 10km challenge. I now have shinsplints! And I followed everything so well! Why would this happen? Could it be a lack of something? I eat all my oils and plenty of protien! I have entered the 10km gun run on 9 oct. What should I do? Thanx for your help.

    • David says:

      follow the advice in the article for treatment. rest, ice, topical anti-inflammatory, and kinesio taping. get professional advice from a reputable specialty running shop or podiatrist on whether you have the correct shoes for your for your foot type, and gait, and make sure your shoes are not too old.
      treat it correctly now, and you should still make the gun run :)

    • Travis says:

      Also alter you foot landing, over striding is a major cause of shin splints…make sure you foot lands under your body weight and not out in front of you forcing a shock/shudder force.

    • shane says:

      i’v found something that works for me : i’ve taped my arches before a run ,with kineseology tape or leukoband . raise your foot onto your knee (if you can!) stretch your arch by raising your big toe as far as possible , now tape across your arch(width !). i usually use 2 pieces to cover the entire arch .

      not too firmly as it can feel a bit uncomfortable at first

    • gary says:

      some of this advice is dangerous especially the kinesiotape and aircast brace… my advice as sports scientist and physio is to speak to a specialist who works treats runnners and their injuries. many medical people super specialise in certain sports..i think the author of this article should consult more people in the know.. and where possible quote some references as sources…responsible journalism??

    • Ben says:

      It might be worth pointing out that not every injury here is shinsplints, stress fractures are also common (as I recently found out) – and there is no way you can tape/ice/anti-inflammatory your way through that.

    • Tim says:

      You should really look into a golf ball muscle roller it really helped to reduced the pain and swelling that i could never get rid of in my legs

    • Monica says:

      How will you know whether it is shinsplints or a fracture?

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