What Causes Shin Splints?

What Causes Shin SplintsMedical Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS), or shin splints as they are more commonly known, are an extremely painful condition that can seriously hamper a workout or training routine and can even affect your daily life.

Although many people suffer from this complaint it is quite often misunderstood and as a consequence incorrect procedures to help overcome the ailment are taken making recovery time much longer than it perhaps should be.

By understanding exactly what causes shin splints, you will have the knowledge to take the necessary measures that may help prevent them or aid recovery from them.

Tired Muscles

Excessive training causes your muscles to tire and shin splints are often caused by this, it affects people who do a lot of running and is a common complaint in people who are training for a marathon or long distance event.

Road running or running on uneven surfaces are also big factors in shin splint symptoms and even running up or downhill can increase the pressure on the shin area causing soreness and pain.

If you are a runner and you are suffering from sore shins then now is the time to analyse, you need to consider your training route and frequency of your training – both of these factors may need to be revised in order to reduce the impact and stress on your shins.

Stress Fractures To The Tibia

Stress fractures are another very painful cause of shin splints but they can be avoided or at least you can reduce the likelihood of them by following some simple running advice;

Try not to overreach with your striding pattern, takes smaller strides and strike the ground with your entire foot – if you have a tendency to strike with your heel first and then let the rest of your foot slap down on the ground, you increase the risk of shin splints through the impact this creates

This running style coupled with a hard running surfaces as mentioned above create the worst possible combination and significantly increase the risk of shin splints.

Flat Feet

If you have relatively flat feet as in the underside of your feet do not have a defined arch you could find that shin splints affect you particularly if you do a lot of running.

The reason for this is that every stride you take the muscles in your feet stretch and this tends to create something called over pronation, there is a medical explanation for this but basically it is when your foot rolls inwards, a aspect of being flat-footed. This occurrence on a regular basis increases the likelihood of injury.


Incorrect or ill-fitting footwear is a big factor is the occurrence of shin splints more so if you have flat feet – the key to this is the support offered around the arch od your foot, the less significant arch the more support you will generally need.

Even people who are not flat-footed can benefit from an orthodontic insole, however, first and foremost you must have the correct running (or sports) shoes.

Failing To Warm Up Properly

Any sportsman or woman will tell you that a correct ‘warm up’ and ‘warm down’ is vitally important in order to avoid injury.

Shin splints start with muscle issues and muscle issues can be a result of not properly warming up (or down), there are many different light exercises that you can do to ensure that you have fully prepared your body both pre and post sports activity.


The key to avoiding or reducing shin splint symptoms is to understand what causes them, this education will certainly help you prepare yourself and your body prior to any form of activity that could aggravate this condition.

The main factors are to understand what your body is telling you and to know when to rest, you should also work out your own running style and not be afraid to change things. Finally you should ensure that you have the best available footwear and seek professional and \ or medical advice if required.

In the next article we cover; How to Get Rid of Shin Splints