The term “shin splints” refers to pain along or just behind the shinbone (tibia) — the large bone in the front of your lower leg. Medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints occur during physical activity and result from too much force being placed on your shinbone and connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone. Shin splints are common in runners and in those who participate in activities with sudden stops and starts, such as basketball, soccer or tennis.
Shin splints aren’t really a single medical condition. Instead, they’re just a symptom of an underlying problem. They might be caused by:
Irritated and swollen muscles, often caused by overuse
Stress fractures which are tiny, hairline breaks in the lower leg bones
Overpronation of the feet (flat-feet) where the foot rolls inwards too much flattening the arch of the foot and causing the lower leg to rotate inwards, stretching the muscles and tendons.
Oversupination of the feet where the foot rolls outwards too much during the time the foot is in contact with the ground.
Inadequate footwear which includes the wrong type of shoe for your running style as well as using running shoes that are just too old and have lost their support and cushioning.
Increasing training too quickly. Doing too much too soon or increasing road running mileage by more than 10% per week is a very common cause of shin pain.
Running on hard surfaces.
Decreased flexibility at the ankle which causes increased stress on the soft tissues, muscles and tendons of the lower leg.
Shin splints are the cause of 13% of all running injuries. Shin splints are also common in dancer and military recruits.
Shin splints cause dull, aching pain in the front of the lower leg. Pain may also appear as sharp razor-like.
Some people feel it only during exercise; others, when they’ve stopped exercising. Sometimes, the pain is constant.
Depending on the exact cause, the pain may be located along either side of the shinbone or in the muscles. The area may be painful to the touch. Swollen muscles can sometimes irritate the nerves in the feet, causing them to feel weak or numb.