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What are Shin Splints and How Can I Treat Them?

By October 28, 2020 November 5th, 2020 No Comments

Shin Splints

Shin splints, or tibial stress syndrome, is typically pain along the inner or outer surface of the shin, that decreases with running in its early stages.  In later stages, the pain occurs earlier on in running and continues until you stop running.

Frequent causes of shin splints include:

  • Running without enough shock absorption (running on cement or uneven surfaces, improper running shoes)
  • Training errors (sudden increase in training intensity and duration)
  • Running >20 miles/week
  • Hill training early in the season
  • Over-pronation or increased internal tibial rotation

DIY Shin Splint Treatments

If left untreated, shin splints can evolve into stress fractures or exertional compartment syndrome, which can take a long time to recover from and keep you on the sidelines much too long.

Activity modification with nonoperative treatments include:

  • Decrease running distance, frequency and/or intensity by 50%
  • Use low-impact and cross-training exercises during the rehab period and maintain during training for running races
  • Regular stretching and strengthening
  • Run on synthetic track, and/or avoid running on hills, uneven or hard surfaces
  • Shoe modifications and change running shoes every 250-500 miles as shoes lose shock absorbing capacity at this distance. The heavier you are, the sooner you should replace your shoes.
  • Orthotics may be helpful in patients with pes planus, or collapsing arches


Shin Splint Prevention

If the DIY method still has not helped, physical therapy may be warranted to provide specific instruction on training of the invertors and evertors of the foot and ankle.  Manual therapy can also help with shins splints, such as fascial counterstrain.  At our clinic, we can do a running assessment to see if it is something happening during your running stride that needs to be modified as well.  This is the most helpful tactic to help prevent recurrence.


Jesse Dunn DPT CSCS

Jesse Dunn DPT CSCS

Jesse graduated from Eastern Washington University in 2017 with her Doctorate of Physical Therapy. Prior to graduate school, she graduated North Dakota State University with a degree in both Exercise Science and Psychology. Jesse has been a certified personal trainer since 2007 and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach with the National Strength and Conditioning Association since 2010. She enjoys working with all types of patients, especially helping athletes of all ages return to optimal performance. She uses a combined approach of manual therapy and exercise to help patients return to the activities they love. When she’s not working, Jesse enjoys biking, gardening, and exploring the outdoors. “I have been an injured athlete, trying to stretch, exercise, and tape myself out of an injury without success. That’s where manual therapy comes into play. I have been practicing fascial counterstrain for over a year now and notice more benefits with this technique than any other. Some things you can’t do yourself, and that’s when coming in for manual therapy can help you.”