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Shin pain, often referred to as ‘shin splints’ is a common complaint amongst runners. It primarily affects new runners or people who have increased their amount of running, like training for a race.

What does shin splint mean?

The term shin splint is used to describe any pain in the shin or lower leg, but actually includes many different diagnoses. Shin pain can be caused by:

  • Bones (including stress fractures)
  • Soft tissues
  • Nerves
  • Blood vessels

What causes it?

  • Training errors (particularly increases in running volume)
  • Running shoes
  • Foot biomechanics (e.g. flat feet)
  • Running technique
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle tightness
  • Joint stiffness or increased range of movement in a joint

What can I do about it?

Shin pain with running can range from mild to severe.

Mild shin pain may ease with:

  • Decreasing the amount of running
  • Running on a softer running surface or using an Anti-Gravity Treadmill
  • Altering footwear and trying a different type of shoe, or often just a new pair!

If the pain is severe or doesn’t settle with the above tips, a physiotherapist can help identify more serious causes such as a stress fracture and provide exercises for muscle imbalances, help with running technique or refer to other health professionals such as a Podiatrist – if foot biomechanics are a contributing factor.

Bec Manson – Physiotherapist