The Ultimate Guide to Shin Splints

When your legs can’t run anymore, run with your heart.

It feels like half the runners I come in contact with have shin splint complaints.

Now I’m not a physical therapist but what most of you don’t know is I have a degree in health, exercise, and sports science and worked as a physical therapy tech, X-Ray tech, and chiropractic therapy assistant. I want to share some of my knowledge with you once a week and touch on a popular injury that most runners get.  Plus, I love this kind of stuff!

This week, if you haven’t already guessed, is shin splints.

If your shins throb and ache after a run, or just simply on the regular, you might be suffering from shin splints.  Don’t worry these can affect literally anyone from beginner up to a marathon runner.

Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, could be caused by small tears or inflammation.  I will say it is important to really take care of this if you have it because it could turn into something a lot more serious, such as a stress fracture.

Shin splits usually occur when you take on too much, too soon.  It could also be from muscle imbalances, overpronation, over worn or not the right shoes, not stretching, different running terrains, or just simply ramping up your intensity to quickly.

Treating shin splints isn’t an overnight thing.  Your body is reacting from the stress you have put on it so take special care to rebuild and recover.  Here are some tips for recovery:

  1. Rest. This allows your body to rebuild and get stronger.
  2. Strengthen. Shin splints could be cause of weak hip abductors or calves.  Take some time to focus on doing exercises to strengthen muscles that could attribute to your pain.
  3. Ice. This is such a go-to for bringing down swelling and easing your pain.
  4. Check your shoes. Some questions I always ask are…how many miles do you have on your shoes? How long have you had them? Were you fitted for them? Most of the time a quick change in shoes makes a BIG difference.
  5. Compression socks. These are awesome to really get the blood circulation to that area.
  6. Stretch. Those muscles are tight and need to be stretched. I will go ahead and add foam rolling or using the stick in this because this will help loosen up the calf muscles as well.
  7. Ibuprofen. Take as directed.
  8. Cross Train. You can still be active without running and putting stress on your shins.
  9. Go see a doctor. I can give you all the advice in the world but if it gets to the point where it could be more than a shin splint pain, go see a doc.

If you have any questions on shin splints let me know and I’ll try to answer what I can! (or I definitely know someone who can answer)

Also, let me know if you are struggling with a running injury or ailment and I’d love to give my own personal tips in a future post!! 

Should be noted: I am NOT a doctor. These are my own personal tips. 

10 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Shin Splints

  1. Hello!
    My left knee has been sore and tight after runs. Been running consistently for the last several months. I had shin splints in April and I rested, iced, compression socks and elevated (R.I.C.E). It hasn’t hurt during my runs, I ran 8 miles this morning and it didn’t hurt. Can you help me at all?

    1. Hi Kelli! I’m also a Physical Therapist (I used to work with Audrey! XO!). It’s always fun detective work to understand why an injury develops, and I recommend the following website to start your investigation. This link in particular discusses two common knee problems for runners:

      Also ask yourself these questions to help determine what steps to take for care:
      Stage 1 – Do I have pain during an activity that stops after a few minutes or when I finish the task? (My knee hurts at the beginning of my run and then goes away.)
      Stage 2 – Do I have pain during and after an activity? (My foot keeps hurting after my run.)
      Stage 3 – Do I have pain that persists with normal daily activities – stairs, walking, sitting? (My back hurts for 2-3 days after running.)
      Stage 4 – Do I have pain that stops me from training or adversely affects my daily activities? (I hurt every time I run and avoid stairs at all costs because of my hip pain.)

      Stages 1 & 2: These early stages indicate a need to further assess your training. Are you using good technique? Are there any strength or flexibility deficits that need to be addressed? Do you have enough recovery time between workouts? Do you have the right footwear for your training style and body type? If self-management does not improve your symptoms quickly then you need to seek out further professional help.
      Stages 3 & 4: These stages indicate it is time to seek professional management of your aches and pains. It is in your best interest to find an expert that specializes in biomechanics and exercise prescription (physical therapist, chiropractor, etc) to help you make specific modifications to your training routine.

      Hope this helps!!

    2. Hi Kelli!! Thanks so much for reading! I reached out to the physical therapist that I worked for and she wrote an amazing respond below on this post!!! Hope it helps and hope it gets better!!! Xoxo

  2. Hi Audrey! My name is Jackie, I’m a physical therapist and runner, and I love following your blog and IG. Just wanted to say this is an awesome post and great tips for managing shin splints! As for the person who commented before me with the sore knee, even though it’s not bothering you during runs if it’s sore and tight after make sure you’re getting enough rest and doing warm ups before runs/cool downs and stretching after. If it doesn’t go away you should think about seeking a PT!

  3. Thank you so much for helping me understand how to deal with shin splints. I love to run, but I have dealt with shin splints for as long as I can remember, which makes running difficult sometimes. With that being said, I think that if I were to ice the areas that hurt after I ran, it would help a little bit. Thanks again for the post, and maybe I will go to a podiatrist to have him diagnose me.

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