Bone Shin Splints

Affects the major bone in the lower leg, the tibia (shin bone). Microscopic fractures (micro fractures) occur within the bone itself. The resulting inflammatory process (the body’s way of repairing itself) causes pain and localised swelling along the bone itself. The muscular regions of the lower leg are not usually affected.

Again this form of injury is caused by poor biomechanics during the contact phase of gait (when the foot strikes the ground). Unlike its muscular cousin this type of injury is caused by poor shock absorption usually (but not always) in an athlete with a rigid foot type.

bone shin splints symptoms

Pain can be felt in the lower leg on running but will be more severe 12-48 hours after exercise. This is due to the time delay of the inflammatory process kicking in.

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Bone shin splints treatment

Bone shin splints will usually always settle down with rest. Taking it easy in the initial stages is imperative to prevent further damage. Do not attempt to do any sports that cause the shins to hurt until the pain has gone completely  If you want to keep exercising, try swimming or another low-impact activity. You may want to try working out on non-impact elliptical trainers (cross trainers) which will give you exactly the same cardio work out as running but without the impact forces. Because these machines support your body weight, they put less stress on your lower legs. When your shins feel better, you can go back to your normal sports. But do this slowly, increasing the amount of time you do the sports activity by about 20% a week.

PLEASE NOTE- if symptoms persist/get worse after ceasing activity or keep you awake at night contact your doctor. None traumatic bone pain is not normal and further investigations will need to be carried out.

bone shin splints prevention

Check your running shoes. Have they got forefoot and rear-foot cushioning?. If not and they are getting old consider changing them. This is the single most effective way of preventing a further occurrence of this problem. Read the running shoes page for advice on running shoes.

Run on softer ground if possible. Remember this is primarily a shock absorbency problem. Go to our online store and purchase a pair of shock absorbing running orthotics. Remember that the only costs for a runner to enjoy his/her sport are for the tools that help him/her strike the ground ie. for trainers and orthotics. It works out at only a couple of pence per mile for the average runner.

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Golden rule- Don’t ignore the problem, it won’t go away!

The way we function biomechanically is predominantly controlled by genetics, its hereditary (runs in the family). The way you function is set and cannot be cured. What you can do however is control lower limb biomechanics by altering foot position during the contact phase of gait. This can only be done by wearing a good shoe (see our shoe guide) and with orthotics (foot beds).

This is the cheapest and most cost effective way for any athlete to reduce the risks of injury from occurring and from helping to prevent re-injury. Overall costs for the average athlete will run into pennies per mile/hour of sport. Orthotics are designed to alter the biomechanics during the time the foot is on the ground. They are also used to provide increased shock absorbency working in harmony with the sport shoe worn.

Think you require treatment for your biomechanical problems?

Visit our Sports podiatry clinic directory pages for a clinic near you.

returning to sport after bone shin splints injury

The goal of rehabilitation is to return you to your sport or activity as soon as is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury, which could lead to permanent damage. Everyone recovers from injury at a different rate. Return to your activity is determined by how soon your shin area recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury occurred.

You may safely return to your sport or activity when, starting from the top of the list and progressing to the end, each of the following is true:

You have full range of motion in the injured leg compared to the uninjured leg.

You have full strength of the injured leg compared to the uninjured leg.

You can jog straight ahead without pain or limping.

You can sprint straight ahead without pain or limping.

You can do 45-degree cuts, first at half-speed, then at full-speed.

You can do 20-yard figures-of-eight, first at half-speed, then at full-speed.

You can do 90-degree cuts, first at half-speed, then at full-speed.

You can do 10-yard figures-of-eight, first at half-speed, then at full-speed.

You can jump on both legs without pain and you can jump on the injured leg without pain.