Shin splints is a type of shin pain, usually caused by exercise. It's not serious and there are things you can do to help get better.
Check if you have shin splints
Shin splints usually happen when you do exercise like running.
You'll have pain and tenderness along the front of your lower leg (shin).
Things you can do to help
Shin splints usually get better within a few weeks. There are things you can do to get better quicker.
put an ice pack (or bag of frozen vegetables) in a towel on your shin for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours
switch to gentle exercise such as yoga or swimming while healing
exercise on soft ground, if you can, when you're feeling better
make sure your trainers or shoes support your feet properly
do not continue doing the exercise that caused your shin splints
do not rush back into exercise at the level you were at – build your exercise routine back up slowly
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- you've tried things to help but the pain is not getting better after a week
- the pain is getting worse
Treatment from a GP
A GP will ask about your symptoms and examine your leg. If it's not getting better, they may be able to refer you to a physiotherapist.
Physiotherapy is available free of charge on the NHS throughout the UK but waiting times can be long. You can also get it privately.
Read more about physiotherapy.
Causes of shin splints
Shin splints happen when you've put too much stress on your leg.
You're more likely to get shin splints if:
- you have started exercising after not being active for some time
- you run or jump on hard surfaces
- you do not have a good running technique
Page last reviewed: 10 December 2019
Next review due: 10 December 2022