What are Shin Splints and How Runners Get Them

Here is what are shin splints and how runners get them.

Shin splints medial tibial stress syndrome, is one of the most common running injuries that plague habitually shod runners [1], especially those who heel strike.

The main symptom of shin splints is a throbbing pain that radiates along the front of the shin bone (anterior shin splints) and along the inner-side of the lower leg (medial shin splints). The pain usually flares-up as soon as the runner begins running and subsides as soon as running is stopped.

What are Shin Splints and How Do Runners Get Them?

What Are Shin Splints

Not all runners get shin splints. For example, barefoot and minimalist runners rarely experience shin splints, which suggests that running barefoot may be the only intervention for the painful, lingering condition.

In fact, barefoot and minimalist running seems to be a much needed breakthrough for the treatment and prevention of shin splints as a large number of shod runners benefit from running barefoot (as per numerous anecdotal reports).

Getting Rid of Them!

Although researchers have studied shin splints in runners for decades, shin splints is inevitable in most cases –for shod runners that is.

The new research however, points the finger at cushioned running shoes as the sole cause of running related shin splints because these shoes causes a runner to heel strike. Here are two ways heel striking causes shin splints.

Here are other reasons that cushioned running shoes are ineffective for reducing shin splints in runners.

Most importantly, if you are struggling with shin splints, find out how you can treat them quickly and prevent them from coming back!

Last, but not least, you can improve your shin pain by adjusting your running style to a forefoot strike.

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More From Run Forefoot:

Benefits of Barefoot Running

Recommended Shoes for Runners

What is a Forefoot Strike?

Common Running Injuries


[1]. Clanton, T. O., & Solcher, B. W. (1994). Chronic leg pain in the athlete. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 13, 743 – 759.

Bretta Riches

"I believe the forefoot strike is the engine of endurance running..."

BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.
Bretta Riches

P.S. Don't forget to check out the Run Forefoot Facebook Page, it's a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I'm always happy to help!

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