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Shin Assessment

As a self-guided first step, the goal is to identify the source of shin pain based on common symptoms related to Shin Splints, which will help inform your next steps in the ARC Running process: Rehabilitation and Conditioning. At any point, you are welcome to schedule a personal assessment with our PT.

Shin Splints (iStock)

Seen in up to 20% of runners, shin splints are generally understood to be the result of muscle overuse, which pulls on the bone (periosteal sleeve), causing an irritation on the tibia.

  • Often bilateral, there is an area (> 5cm) on the lower tibia that is sore
  • Pain is worse in the morning 
  • Palpation (touch) tenderness on front/outside shin (anterior tibialis) or inside/back shin (soleus), especially after activity
  • Pain starts in the beginning of the workout, gets better, and returns after
  • Feels tight or swollen in the front part of the lower leg
  • Pain with lifting toes up when walking (ankle dorsiflexion) and/or resisted dorsiflexion (for the anterior tibialis) or when standing on toes (soleus)

Though the two conditions share some symptoms, a stress fracture is an incomplete break in the bone from overuse. It is not uncommon for a shin splint, if untreated, to lead to a tibial stress fracture. Here are some common symptoms:

  • Often bilateral, there is an area (< 5cm) on the lower tibia that is sore
  • Pain is better in the morning after rest
  • More localized, sharp pain, especially palpating (touching) the bone
  • NOTE: If you suspect a stress fracture or have nerve related pain (numbness, tingling), please consult your physical therapist or physician for further evaluation.
  • Also known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, pain usually involves the front muscle group (e.g. anterior tibialis), which helps lift your foot as you run/walk, or the interior/inside muscle group (e.g. soleus)
  • Main reason for shin splints is an overuse condition of the muscles, causing irritation where the muscle attaches to the bone (tibia)

Still Need Help?

You are welcome to meet virtually with our PT for additional feedback and assessment. Otherwise, continue to the next step to assess potential causes of your pain.