Shin splints are a common injury amongst new runners. So, if you’ve recently commenced or ramped up a running program, read on to learn how to identify, treat, and manage shin splints.

What are shin splints?

Are your shins tender and sore from running or playing sports such as football or rugby? If you are experiencing pain along the shinbone that seems to get worse when you run or exercise, shin splints may be to blame. Shin splints is the term used to describe pain and inflammation along the front of the leg. The pain can be felt from the knee to the ankle along the shinbone.

What causes shin splints?

Have you recently added incline sprints or endurance to your running training? Or maybe you’ve upped the number of runs per week or distance per run in preparation for an upcoming race or event?

Inflamed muscles/tendons and tight calf muscles, coupled with overuse are thought to cause shin splints. If you’ve recently stepped up your training and are now experiencing pain along your shinbone as a result, you may need to step back and seek treatment.

Another common cause of shin splints is wearing old or ill-fitting footwear to exercise. Are your running shoes worn out and no longer giving you the support you need when exercising? This can contribute to shin splints developing (let’s face it, we love a reason to update our training shoes!).

What can you do to help shin splints?

It might be the last thing you want to do but taking a break from running or high-impact activities is the fastest way to heal from shin splints. If you try to push through, it will take longer for your shins to heal. If you’re concerned about losing fitness, you could try cycling or swimming as low-impact training options while you recover.

To help you recover from shin splints, you could:

  • Take over-the-counter medication for the pain, if needed (always speak to your doctor first please!)
  • Use ice therapy – apply an ice pack to the shin for 20 minutes, every 2 hours.
  • Take a break from the aggravating exercise until the shin splints have healed.
  • Switch to low impact exercise such as cycling, yoga or swimming, while you recuperate.

Can physiotherapy help to treat shin splints?

Yes, physical therapy is a common treatment for shin splints. As physiotherapists, we assess your symptoms, your running style, and any muscular imbalances that may be contributing to your shin pain. We work with you to come up with an appropriate treatment plan to help get you back to running and exercise as quickly and safely as possible.

The initial treatment may focus on:

  • Reducing pain
  • Exercises to correct any muscle imbalances
  • Restoring function

As your condition improves, we can help to put together a detailed training program for your gradual return to running. We’ll support you as you work towards the goals you are hoping to achieve!

Preventing shin splints

Once you have recovered, you can take preventative steps to reduce your risk of getting shin splints again.

  • Get fitted properly for your workout shoes and replace them when they wear out.
  • Make sure you warm up properly and stretch to cool down.
  • Run on softer surfaces such as grass or a running track.
  • Increase your running or exercise program gradually.
  • Cross train with lower impact activities such as cycling, walking or swimming.
  • Incorporate strength training into your workout.

If you are experiencing painful shin splints and need help to manage them, come and see us. Give us a call on 9838 3030 or email to make an appointment.