How To Prevent And Recover From Shin Splints


If you love to run, chances are you have suffered shin pain from time-to-time. Studies have shown that shin splints are the most common cause of lower leg pain in those who run regularly.

However, this is not the only cause of shin pain which is why it is important to correctly identify the source of the problem. Pain in the front of lower leg can also be caused by compartment syndrome or stress fractures. The following is a brief overview of what shin splints are and how to manage them.

What Causes Shin Splints?

This condition causes pain along the tibia in the lower leg. It is most common after dancing, running or playing tennis but many types of athletes can develop it. Repetitive motions on hard surfaces are the primary reason this condition occurs. It is also more likely to develop after increasing the frequency or intensity of exercise. Those who exercise in shoes that are worn out or do not fit correctly are at an increased risk of developing a repetitive motion injury. Those who have very rigid foot arches or flat feet may also be more likely to have tibia pain.

What Are The Symptoms?

Shin splints are characterized by pain in the tibia, located in the lower portion of the leg just below the knee.

This pain may be dull or throbbing or very sharp and intense. It may appear during exercise or shortly thereafter. Your leg may also feel swollen to the touch if you have this condition.

How Can I Prevent Shin Splints?

There are certain steps you can take to prevent the development of shin pain. If you are a runner, you must run with proper form to avoid this problem. Wearing shoes that fit your feet properly is also key in reducing these types of repetitive injuries. Choose shoes designed specifically for the sport you participate in.

Don’t wear cross trainers or tennis shoes to run long distances. There are fitness stores that can help you choose the right shoes for your foot.Placing shoe inserts inside your shoes can also help prevent pain by distributing the shock in the foot and reducing stress in the leg.

Another important aspect of preventing lower leg pain is exercise intensity. Gradually build up to longer running distances or increased exercise times. Trying to increase these things too fast can result in shin pain. In addition, try alternating sports to reduce the likelihood of shin pain. This is helpful since this type of pain is caused by repetitive movements.

How Do I Recover From This Condition?

If you have shin pain, you know how difficult it is to deal with. Since shin pain is caused by overuse and repetition, rest is the best way to recover. It may take several weeks of rest before you notice a reduction in pain. Once the pain is a bit better, try low impact exercises such as swimming or riding a stationary bike. Applying ice for 20 minutes twice daily may also help reduce shin pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or NSAID’s may also help relive pain. These are available over-the-counter or stronger formulas are available with a prescription from your doctor. You should be pain-free for at least 14 days before beginning your exercise program again. When you return to exercise, take the time to warm-up properly and stop if pain is present.
Persistent shin pain should be evaluated by a doctor if rest, ice and NSAID medications are not helpful in reducing pain. In some cases, a more serious condition such as compartment syndrome or a stress fracture is the cause of shin pain.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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