Shin Splint

A shin splint is inflammation and pain along the inner part of the lower leg. It involves the shin bone, which is also known as the tibia.

  • Causes

    Shin splints occur when the tissue that connects muscles to the lining of the tibia becomes irritated and inflamed.

    Muscles of the Lower Leg
    Nucleus factsheet image
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Definition

    A shin splint is inflammation and pain along the inner part of the lower leg. It involves the shin bone, which is also known as the tibia.

  • Diagnosis

    If you have the symptoms of shin splints, you may not need to see a doctor. If the injury does not respond to self-treatment (see Treatments below) after two to four weeks, see your doctor. You may have a more serious injury.


    Your lower leg will be examined to look for areas of tenderness and swelling. In addition, the doctor will look for foot problems such as over-pronation.

    Images may be taken of your leg. This can be done with x-rays.

  • Prevention

    The following steps may help to prevent the development of a shin splint:

    • Warm up gradually first and then do progressive stretching.
    • Slowly increase the intensity and duration of exercise.
    • Cool down after exercise with light stretching.
    • Run on a softer surface such as grass, dirt, or certain outdoor tracks.
    • Carefully select footwear. Different shoes have different degrees of support and motion control.
    • Avoid over-striding, which can put more stress on your shin.
    • Wear orthotics if your doctor recommends them.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your risk for a shin splint include:

    • Improper stretching or failure to warm up before exercising
    • Activities that involve repeated pounding of the legs on hard surfaces such as running, basketball, or tennis
    • Increasing intensity of exercise or mileage of running without proper preparation and conditioning
    • Worn-out or ill-fitting footwear
    • Improper running technique or problems with the way the foot hits the ground when running
    • A strength imbalance between two opposing muscle groups in the leg
    • Flattened foot arches
    • Running on a slope

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms of a shin splint include:

    • Pain on the inner side of the shin, described as aching or throbbing with local tenderness
    • Swelling or redness of the shin—not common

  • Treatment