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Shin splints: causes, treatment and how physiotherapy can help

By Gay Monteith

What are shin splints?

Pain on the inside of the shin bone (tibia), is known as shin splints. It is typically caused by a sudden or increased repetitive loading of the muscle on the inside of the shin bone through running and jogging. But it can be an injury in any sport that involves a lot of running or jumping, such as basketball, netball and soccer. Having flat or pronated feet or exercising with incorrect or worn footwear can increase the risk of shin splints. Excessive running on hard surfaces such as concrete footpaths can also be a contributing factor.


Pain along the inside border of the tibia, where the muscle attaches to the edge of the bone, occurring during and after exercise. The area is usually tender to the touch, sometimes accompanied by swelling.


Shin splints will usually settle down after a few weeks if you do the following:

• Take a break from the aggravating activity

• Apply Ice packs wrapped in a damp towel for 15-20 minutes 2-3 times per day.

• Use a compression bandage or taping

• Stretch the lower limb muscles

• Wear supportive shoes

Physiotherapy follow up

Physiotherapy can help relieve the pain of the immediate injury, as well as helping to reduce the risk of a reoccurrence.

We can assess your walking and running technique and suggest improvements.

A podiatry assessment may be necessary if foot biomechanics are a contributing factor.

Once we have a complete picture of all the factors contributing to your injury, we can set appropriate exercises to support a return to your sport or fitness activity.

If you've picked up a injury through running or another sport, talk to one of our experienced physios about a treatment and prevention programme.

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