Oww! My Splitting Shins


By Ross Ashcraft

At some point in most people’s lives they have that burning or aching sensation in the lower legs that we call Shin Splints.  The medical condition is called Tibial Stress Syndrome, and it can truly ruin a great day.  This is a common problem for dancers and those that move quickly, and it is the cause of 13% of ALL running injuries.  Some people only feel it when they work out.  For others, it is brings constant pain.

Root Causes:

There is no single cause for shin splints for shin splints.  It can be caused by:

1.)  Overuse of muscles causing them to be swollen and inflamed.  These swelling muscles encroach in the territory of neighboring nerves and just like a neighbor who visits too much it can start to get on your nerves.

2.)  Small hairline stress fractures causing pain and discomfort.  These are like the small cracks in your house.  They can accumulate over time or be caused by a recent earthquake.

3.)  Flat feet are the last cause of this aggravating condition.  Flat feet are cause by overpronation of your feet.  Basically, the arch of your foot is collapsing inward and this causes the bones in your lower leg to shift to bad position for their overall health.

Do I Have It?

Palpate both sides of your shin or Tibia bone.  If the area feels swollen or is painful to the touch and you have a feel of weakness or numbness in the feet, you should consider have a doctor X-ray them.


1.)  Rest is the best solution.  However, this could take weeks or even months.  Try at least changing to a lower impact sport like swimming until the pain stops occurring.

2.)  Icing your shins is an effective treatment.  Follow the pattern of 10-10-10.  10 minutes of Ice; 10 minutes of rest; & 10 minutes of ice.  Wait an hour or two and repeat.  Do this for two to three days or until the pain leaves.

3.)  Buy arch supports or increase the arch support in your running shoe.   An orthopedist can measure you for them, or two local stores I recommend are Ideal Feet and Fleet Feet.  They will evaluate your arches and recommend specifically designed shoes and/or shoe inserts.

4.)  Draw the alphabet with your toes.  It’s a great range of motion exercise.  You’ll feel goofy doing it, but it will loosen your feet and ankles.  In order, the three most important times to do this are:  a.) Right before bed; b.) After physical activity; c.) First thing in the morning.

5.)  A neoprene sleeve purchased from any drug store will support the ankle joint and help in maintain stability during physical activity.

6.)  Pursue physical therapy to bring balanced strength to the area.


1.)  Always wear shoes with sole support.

2.)  Always stretch ankles before and after physical activity.

3.)  Don’t play or run on hard surfaces like concrete.

4.)  Stop as soon as you feel the pain in your shins.  Playing through the PAIN is a mistake.

How do I know that I am healed?

1.)  Legs are equally flexible.

2.)  Legs are equally strong.

3.)  You can run and play without pain.

4.)  X-rays show no more stress fractures.

Shin splints can take their own sweet time to heal.  Give them time and don’t rush headlong back into the physical activities that birthed the problem in the first place.


I’d love to know your stories about shin splints.  Please tell us your story or any family member’s story that has ever suffered from this condition.  Tell us how you/they treated it.  If you have had no experience with the condition…well..then God Bless you…would you please tell us which of my treatments above you feel is the most effective.





27 thoughts on “Oww! My Splitting Shins”

  1. I have not had any experience with this problem, or known anyone that has. I think all the treatments listed are probably great for this problem but the one I would try first, if I had a problem with shin splints, would be the icing of the shins. It seems like it would be an effective treatment, or at least a nice relief from the pain.

  2. I have a friend who had shin splints from running 5-6 miles a day in shoes that were too small. To get over it she quit running for a while and did range of motion with her ankles. It took her about two weeks to get over it.

  3. Thanks for the information. I have experience shin splints from walking. I just chalk it up as being out of shape. I also thought I could walk it off, it didn’t work. I just love new knowledge.

  4. This was a really helpful article for me because I deal with this. I have brought me some arch supports and have also switched up my workout routine so that it is easier on me, since I am only bothered with this when I run or do an intense workout. I also plan on trying the ice next time I workout if it is bothering me.

  5. I have no stories about shin splints sorry Ross but will keep this tips in mind in case one of my client’s come in about thier shins hurting thanks Ross.

  6. I would do the icing fjor about an hour that would seem to be better for most people. Could you also do heat too if you had to or would ice be more affective??

    1. Since this is an inflammation injury heat would not be therapeutic and in some cases harmful. It might make it initially feel better but ultimately it won’t do any good.

  7. I personally have never had this problem, thank you Lord! I think my husband has though, and my daughter has flat feet. Ice seems like a great idea, as well as good soul support. She has inserts for her shoes. Rest..well that seems impossible doesn’t it? Alphabet toe spelling is a new one to me but I am going to have my daughter & husband practice it and see what they think. Oh and Ross…maybe it’s time to update your picture???…I’m just saying…. 🙂

  8. I don’t really have any stories on shin splints. However, when I was working at a vet I would be on my feet for almost 12 hours and by the end of the day my feet and legs would be killing me. I went out and bought really good arch supports to put in my shoes and it made a big difference for me. I think buying arch supports,doing ice treatments, and adding stretching would be a very effective treatment for shin splints.

  9. I have never had a shin splint at all but i think the ice and alphabet treatment would work for me. I do the alphabet treatment when my shins are a lil sore.

  10. I personally have never had shin splints but it seems to me to I would opt for the ice 10 minutes on/ 10 minutes off/ 10 minutes on- and repeat for 2-3 days. Ice will reduces the inflammation.

  11. I have had shin spilts. They are not fun!!! I have them because I am flat footed. I haven’t had any pain in them in a long time well because I’m not as active as I used to be. But when I do get them I usually just do some ankle range of motion when ever they hurt and that seems to help. But yes rest is the best for them. I will try the writing with the alphabet and the ice next time I have them. Which may be soon since it’s getting so nice outside and I need to tone up.

  12. shin splints are the worst! i play soccer and used to get them all the time. rest and ice have always been a huge help.

  13. I think treatments 3 & 4 would be most effective because you always have supports with the arch supporters and keeping your muscles/bones used to healthy movement prevents them from becoming weak.

  14. I used to be real into sports when I was younger, and would get these quite often actually. I normally just used ice because the coaches seemed to always have that on hand. People have told me i probably need more arch support but i never got it. The ice always seemed to help. I never heard of the alphabet writing but sounds interesting. Can’t wait to try it. 🙂

  15. I don’t deal with shin splints. But I think that if you support your feet right this could really prevent them as well as help already hurt shins.

  16. I have flat feet and I used to have a lot of pain in my back and my legs/feet. The only thing that helps me is to, buy inserts for my feet. Now I can have a good day and work in one spot without having to deal with pain. Inserts do help. I have flat feet by the way.

  17. I don’t have any experience with shin splints. I used to get charlie horses when I was pregnant tho. I would only get them at night and I would just point my toes up toward my shins until they went away. I haven’t had one since.

  18. I have never suffered from shin splints in my life but if I were to use one of these treatments it would be the ice. Mostly because I like to use ice anyways.

  19. No experience on this one thank goodness !! I think all the ideas sound great. The 10-10-10 ice for the 2 or 3 days along with rest, and one of the sleeves, would be the route I would send them on. Of course have them come back into the office for another massage and check on their progress.

  20. I cannot believe that there are so many that have never had to deal with shin splints! They hurt. I get them when I run on a treadmill rather than on the street. I have a pair of “super feet” from Fleet Fleet that I wear in my shoes and it makes a HUGE difference. Next time I am going to try the ice because they stink!

  21. I have never had shin splints and I don’t know anyone that has ever had it. I think the ice would work best to reduce inflammation. Ice can help heal a lot of injuries. Also i think that writing the alphabet with your toes would work best. It gives the ankle a lot of range of motion and gently works the muscles around the shin

  22. Okay, so i actually did this about a week back. my sister was having a brownie emergency, so i ran, literally ran to the store to get her some. my shins hurt so bad. i couldn’t even walk anymore with out pain. so i stopped and rested. then i figured, hey im in class for massage. ill just work it. so i stretched it, then palpated it. it gave me so much relieve, that i actually ran back to my house, and when i got there, i was still in pain, but not nearly as much as i was. but when i got home to rest, i put an ice pack on it and the pain lifted right off.