Shin Splints  Article From The North Devon Sports Injury clinic

The winter sports season is  well underway for most teams.  Normally at this time of the year we tend to train in moulded studs and appropriate footwear for hard ground.  Sadly this year has seen a lot of rain, therefore providing a reasonably soft terrain to train on. However even with soft ground underfoot, the rigours of embarking on a hard pre-season training programme does not come without its problems. 

One of the more common problems is anterior compartment syndrome (better known as shin splints)

Shin splints is a common term used for a number of conditions causing pain to the front side of the lower leg, particularly close to the shin.  It is especially common among people involved in athletic pursuits, distance running, training on hard ground and military recruits.  However it can also be found in people with postural gait problems especially when standing for long periods of time.

There are two types of shin splints:

  • Anterior Shin Splints – Pain in the front of the lower leg between an anterior tibialis muscle and tibia (shin bone).
  • Posterior or Medial Shin Splints – Produces pain in the inside of the shin bone

See diagram below



Symptoms include tightness, tenderness on touch especially to the edge of the shin bone and a burning or throbbing sensation during and immediately after activity.  The symptoms often ease whilst resting but immediately returns when exercise is resumed.  The key to successful treatment begins with a detailed history of the problem.  Then a thorough examination can lead to an accurate diagnosis.  Thereafter an effective treatment regime can then follow, this is provided that a stress fracture is ruled out.  Fractures are normally painful even during rest.


The basic principles of rest, ice, gentle compression, later heat/massage, ultra-sound, stretching, strengthening and training advice are essential in the treatment of the condition and in some cases orthotics and strapping maybe necessary to prevent excessive pronation of the foot, which is a common reason for shin splints.over pronation can result in other joint related problems ie: back pain, hip pain, knee pain etc; however most problems can be resolved with appropriate treatment from trained therapists such as physiotherapists, sports therapists, osteopaths podiatrists and chiropractors.


A few basic tips to remember:

  • Footwear – They may be cheap , but are they right for you, if in doubt seek qualified advice after all this is your first line of defence.
  • Training – When embarking on a new training programme, make it progressive, start easy, and gradually build up.
  • Pain – If it hurts stop – seek medical advice