What Do Shin Splints Feel Like? 3 simple ways to reduce risk of shin splints

One of the most common injuries in athletes, and well any activity that involves running is Shin Splints.

If you’re unsure and you’ve been asking yourself, what do shin splints feel like? I would like to explain what they are.

People often associate throbbing and aching in the shin area with shin splints. However, splints can be associated with many different injuries between the ankle and the knee. That’s why it’s often called a garbage term. It is an over use injury that is characterized by inflammation of a distinctive point between the knee and ankle. Some of the most common are Tibialis Posterior (inside near ankle), Tibialis Anterior (outside mid way up shin), Compartment Syndrome or a Stress Fracture. All of these have varying degrees of injury; some require rest while others require surgery.


Now that you have a little better idea of what shin splints are lets talk about 3 easy ways to prevent them.

  1. Build foot and ankle strength:

A couple exercises that you can add to your strength-training program to help build foot strength includes:

  • Curling a towel on the floor with your foot
  • Picking up and dropping marbles with your toes
  • Band extension and flexion exercises where you push and pull a band to the left, center and right.
  1. Have some one watch how your foot strikes the Ground:

As a Track and Field Coach with the Langley Mustangs, one of the first things I look for when critiquing form is watching their foot-striking pattern. How you strike the ground can tell you a lot about how you are running. For example if you are striking on your toes in front of your center of gravity, chances are you are sitting. This sends a shock of impact up your leg. If you continue with this routine you will have shin splints in no time! If you strike too far behind your body well you will fall face first into the ground. Just kidding that would be worst-case scenario. But if you are a little behind your center of gravity you will be sitting and extremely heavy on your feel resulting in you got it, impact absorption problems.

  1. Use a ball or foam roller for shin splints on a regular basis.

Using a foam roller for shin splints (Myofascial Stretching) is an extremely important part or a running and Strength training program. If you get into a proper stretching routine you will help your body recover from previous workouts much quicker! Some tips on rolling:

  1. Don’t just roll up and down on the tight spots. One of the most effective ways to release the muscles is stopping on the sore spot and gently takes the muscle through a range of motion.
  2. Roll the bottom of your foot regularly. Its painful but it works. The fascia under the foot is an important part of the chain, if there is a knot there; you shorten the chain a great deal.

Well I hope that these tips help you keep on the road, track, pitch, trail field or where ever your feet take you. This should answer your question to what do shin splints feel like? Make sure to use that foam roller for shin splints when you feel them!

Till next time your friendly neighbourhood Personal Trainer,

Justin Massar

BA Kinesiology , NSCA-CSCS,

BCAK, NCCPII Sprint/Hurdles

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