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Shin splints

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 will 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.

Do

  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease the pain
  • 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
  • warm up before exercise and stretch after exercise
  • make sure your trainers or shoes support your feet properly – find out more about choosing the right shoes

Don't

  • 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 from the NHS might not be available everywhere and waiting times can be long. You can also get it privately.

Urgent advice: Get advice from 111 now if:

  • your shin pain is severe
  • you've injured your shin

111 will tell you what to do. They can tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone.

Go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111.

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