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Dealing with Shin Splints

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Understanding Shin Splints: What Every Runner Should Know

Dear Run R2P Community,

Have you ever experienced a nagging pain along the front or inside of your shinbone during or after a run? If so, you might be dealing with shin splints, also known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS). Let’s talk about what shin splints are, some potential causes, and how you can effectively manage them to keep running strong.

What are Shin Splints

Shin splints refer to the diffuse pain felt along the upper or lower half of the shinbone. This discomfort is often linked to irritation of the connective tissues surrounding the muscles or bones in the lower leg. While common among runners, it’s essential to differentiate between typical discomfort and more severe symptoms that may warrant medical attention.

Signs indicating a potentially serious issue include sharp pain when touching the bone directly, persistent pain at rest, limited relief from over-the-counter pain medications, nighttime awakening due to pain, or difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek evaluation from a medical professional promptly.

Additionally, it’s essential to consider other potential causes for running related lower leg pain, such as stress fracture or stress reactions, chronic exertional compartment syndrome, or tendinopathy, as these conditions may present with similar symptoms to shin splints and require different management strategies.


Several factors can contribute to the development of shin splints. These include ramping up running volume or intensity too quickly, sudden changes in footwear or running surfaces, worn-out shoes, and inadequate preparation for the demands of running. Recognizing and addressing these risk factors can help prevent shin splints from occurring.

When it comes to managing shin splints, there are several low-hanging fruit strategies to consider. Addressing deficits in calf mobility, improving lower body strength through targeted exercises, and gradually reintroducing plyometric activities once symptoms are under control can all be effective approaches. Additionally, educating yourself on proper symptom management techniques is key.

For those seeking professional assistance, physical therapy can be incredibly beneficial in the management of shin splints. A comprehensive physical therapy program may include temporarily reducing training volume (while still maintaining activity), manual therapy techniques to alleviate symptoms and improve mobility, progressive strength and plyometric training, and education on self-management strategies for long-term success.

The Finish Line

Remember, managing shin splints is not just about resting and waiting for the pain to subside. It’s about addressing underlying issues, maintaining your fitness modifying as needed, building resilience, and making informed decisions to keep you running comfortably and injury-free.

As always, listen to your body, be proactive in addressing any discomfort, and don’t hesitate to seek guidance from qualified healthcare professionals if needed. With the right approach, you can overcome shin splints and continue pursuing your running goals with confidence.

Happy running!

If you need any further guidance or support along the way please feel free to reach out to me directly at, or if you are considering PT – schedule a FREE CONSULT HERE

Happy Running!

running physical therapist

Dr. Greg Ellis PT, DPT, CSCS

Performance Physical Therapist 

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