When should you see a physio about shin splints?

What are shin splints?

Shin splints are caused by overloading the muscles, tendons in your leg, or your shin bone. Due to the overuse of those areas of your leg, swelling occurs. The pain you feel from shin splints is due to the inflammation of muscles, tendons, and bone tissue which surrounds your shin.

Shin splints typically affect individuals involved in activities requiring high levels of movement of your lower leg. Some common activities that may lead to shin splints include running, dancing, gymnastics, as well as military recruitment.

This higher risk of contracting shin splints is due to repetitive workouts that are high in impact to your lower legs. Further factors include flat feet or rigid arches, working out on hard surfaces, and failure to wear appropriate shoes.

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What are the symptoms of shin splints?

Symptoms of shin splints include pain of your lower leg/s, aching pain in front of your shin, increased pain during or after exercise, pain that reduces with rest. Severe shin splints may result in pain during rest time.

In situations where your shin splints are not severe, a decrease in your activity should assist in your shin splint recovery. It is important to note that the healing process can take up to 6 months to heal with at least 2 to 4 weeks of complete rest from your activity.

Recurrence of shin splints is possible despite pain reduction, and it is recommended that you should be pain-free for a minimum of 2 weeks before returning to your exercise activity.

When should you see a physiotherapist about shin splints?

Although shin splints are generally considered as a harmless condition, there are situations where a trained and specialised physiotherapist could help alleviate your pain.

Where a shin splint does not reduce in pain after a few days or increases in pain despite rest and self-remedy, further investigation by a physiotherapist or doctor may be required. In some cases, other conditions aside your shin splints may be the cause of the pain. For example, the cause of your high levels of pain may be due to a referred back pain or a stress fracture of the tibia.

A physiotherapist will be able to assist in the correction of any biomechanical factors of your body. The level of correction includes tight or imbalanced muscles which may have influence over the way you perform your activity.

A physio will also be able to advise upon taping your lower legs prior to your exercise in order to prevent further injury from occurring.

Next steps

HealthEngine can help you find and book an appointment with your regular physiotherapist or another experienced professional at a practice near you.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine always recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.


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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.