Shin Splints

Shin splints are injuries to the front of the outer leg. While the exact injury is not known, shin splints seem to result from injury to the tendon (posterior peroneal tendon) and adjacent tissues in the front of the outer leg.

Shin splints represent one member of a group of injuries called “overuse injuries.” Shin splints occur most commonly in runners or aggressive walkers.

What are the symptoms of shin splints?

Shin splints cause pain in the front of the outer leg below the knee. The pain of shin splints is characteristically located on the outer edge of the mid region of the leg next to the shin bone (tibia). An area of discomfort measuring 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) in length is frequently present. Pain is often noted at the early portion of the workout, and then lessens only to reappear near the end of the training session. Shin splint discomfort is often described as dull at first. However, with continuing trauma, the pain can become so extreme as to cause the athlete to stop workouts altogether.

What causes shin splints?

A primary culprit causing shin splints is a sudden increase in distance or intensity of a workout schedule. This increase in muscle work can be associated with inflammation of the lower leg muscles, those muscles used in lifting the foot (the motion during which the foot pivots toward the tibia). Such a situation can be aggravated by a tendency to overpronate the foot (roll it excessively inward onto the arch).

Similarly, a tight Achilles tendon or weak ankle muscles are also often implicated in the development of shin splints.