What are Shin Splints?

What are Shin Splints?

Shin splintsShin splints are pain that runs along the large bone (tibia) in the front of the lower leg (shinbone). Shin splints occur when muscles, tendons, and bone tissue are overworked. They are most common among athletes—particularly runners, dancers, and military recruits—because of intense physical training or changes in routines.

Shin splints, also referred to as medial tibial stress syndrome, are determined by a physical exam and discussing your medical history with your doctor. Imaging tests can highlight the cause of the shin splints (for instance, a possible stress fracture).

Signs & Symptoms of Shin Splints


The main symptom of shin splints is pain in the front of your leg. Overuse of the muscles in the lower leg causes the connective tissue and surrounding area to become irritated and inflamed. Repetitive motions and jumping are known to cause shin splints. 

Some shin splint symptoms may include:

  • Tenderness or soreness to the front of the shinbone
  • Pain along the inner side of your shinbone
  • Swelling in the lower leg area

What Causes Shin Splints?


Shin splints are caused by repetitive stress on the shinbone and connective tissues that attach the muscle to the bone. An increase in high-impact training, exercise, or overuse of the muscles in the lower legs can cause shin splints. 

Runners and dancers are typically the most at risk for developing shin splints. Basketball players or athletes who participate in sports that require a lot of running or jumping are also susceptible to shin splints.

Risk Factors

Risk Factors

Shin splints result from overuse of the lower leg muscles and tendons. Frequent and repetitive actions like basketball or running long distances on hard surfaces are all factors that can bring on shin splints. 

Repetitive action can cause inflammation of the muscles and tendons, making even walking a painful experience. Low vitamin D can also be a risk factor for some instances of shin splints.  

Some examples of sports and activities most associated with shin splints are:

  • Ballet
  • Gymnastics
  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Lacrosse
  • Cross-country running
  • Track & field



There are preventive ways to reduce the chance of suffering shin pain. Steps to help prevent shin splints include:

  • Stretch before exercising, specifically your calves and hamstrings
  • Avoid sudden and intense increases in exercise
  • Run or exercise on soft surfaces—avoid running on concrete or uneven surfaces
  • Do foot and arch strengthening exercises
  • Strengthen and exercise your hip muscles
  • Run or work out in the proper athletic footwear
  • Keep a healthy body weight 
  • Taking in sufficient levels of vitamin D through food or supplements
Get Care

Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Shin Splint Care

Our experts are conveniently located throughout the New York metropolitan area. NewYork-Presbyterian sports medicine specialists are experienced in treating and preventing shin splints and other sports-related injuries, with an emphasis on non-surgical alternatives as the preferred course of treatment.