Skip to main content

What Are Shin Splints?

Runner's Knee

Shin Splints are part of our running injuries season where we are focusing on the top 5 running injuries in detail. Giving you info on what it is, why runners get it, the current gold standard treatment, top tips on the best exercises, plus personal encounters of our patients experience.

What Exactly Is It?

Shin Splints

To give it it’s medical term, Anterior (front of the shin pain when running) or Medial (inside of the shin pain when running) Tibial Stress Syndrome (ATSS or MTSS) is pain derived from the lining of the tibia (shin bone). Commonly known as shin splints, this is an umbrella term that covers any pain in the shin.

If we look at the anatomy of the shin and calf there are numerous groups of muscles, some of which sit together in tightly packed compartments that attach to the shin bone via a strong web-like connective tissue called Sharpey’s fibres, also found in the skull and teeth. There are 4 main compartments but the 2 that cause shin splints pain are the front (anterior) and back (posterior). The front compartment contains 3 tightly packed muscles, and the back compartment 5. Each play an extremely important role in creating and absorbing force when you run. In fact, your deep calf can take up to 8 times your body weight in force with each stride!

Symptoms typically begin as a diffuse, dull, ache in the front or inside of the shin bone that can intensify enough to stop you running. Usually this can be present at the start of the run, ease as you get going but then return with increasing mileage. If really aggravated the pain can remain for days afterwards when walking.

Other common symptoms to look out for around the shin can include a more localised intense area of pain that can stop you bearing weight altogether. This may indicate a stress fracture. Or tingling and numbness symptoms that may indicate compartment syndrome. That’s why it’s essential you get assessed if symptoms persist beyond 3 weeks.

Why Do Runners Get Shin Splints?

As we mentioned in our previous Runner’s Hub blogs there are 3 key elements that make up an efficient, injury free runner:

  1. Form
  2. Condition
  3. Regime

Commonly if there is a fault in just 1 element this can increase the risk of Shin Splint symptoms. Our Run Lab assessment is suitable for runners of any level and aims to spot these faults before they even become a problem. A few common technique and control faults are shown below:

The most common cause of Shin Splints includes over training or simply doing too much, too soon. Look out for our upcoming blogs where we will be giving you some simple, golden tips on how to tailor your training to help prevent Shin Splints.

Finally, a very well referenced cause for Shin Splints symptoms is poor footwear. Its vital that your trainer fits to you, not you fitting to the trainer! We recommend our local partners at Up & Running, Sheffield.

Our next blog looks at What Is The Best Shin Splints Treatment?

Like our Facebook page to keep updated on more useful tips to improve your running efficiency, and stay injury-free.


Running is Evolving. Keep up with the pace!