Shin splints

Pain in the shins during exercise

A condition often associated with high impact activities such as running or dance

What are shin splints?

Shin splints is the name given to pain in your shins, or the front of your lower legs. It's a fairly common condition, and usually not serious. It's thought to result from the inflammation of tissue around the shin bone. You may experience this after too much exercise, running, playing high-impact sports or a change in your activity level.

Need to know

  • What are the symptoms of shin splints? icon plus

    You may have shin splints if you experience pain down the front of your lower legs. It's most likely to be shin splints if:

    • you notice pain soon after you start to exercise
    • you can feel it in both shins
    • it covers an area the size of a matchbox or greater
    • it feels dull and more like an ache at first, but becomes sharper and more severe over time
    • it fades once you stop exercising, although it can become more constant over time
  • Screening and diagnosis icon plus

    If you think you have shin splints and are worried, it's best to talk to your consultant or GP. They may ask you about factors which could contribute to shin splints.

    These might include a change of exercise routine, for example if you've started running further or have taken up a new sport. Should you be experiencing severe pain, your GP or consultant may take an X-ray. This is to make sure you don't have a stress fracture.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    The best way to treat shin splints is to rest. Your consultant or GP may also recommend changes to your lifestyle or exercise routine. This could include trying lower impact activities or using more supportive footwear.

    They may also refer you for a course of physiotherapy. Having flat feet or feet that roll inwards can be a factor with shin splints. If you experience these, you may wish to speak to a podiatrist.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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