Shin splints causes

While there are many causes of shin splints, they can be categorised into three main groups. Overload (or training errors), biomechanical abnormality and poor footwear.

Shin splints causes - Biomechanical abonormality

The major biomechanical inefficiency contributing to shin splints is that of flat (pronated) feet. Pronation occurs just after the heal strikes the ground. The foot flattens out, and then continues to roll inward.

Over-pronation occurs when the foot and ankle continue to roll excessively inward. This excessive inward rolling causes the tibia to twist, which in-turn, over stretches the muscles of the lower leg.

A rigid foot type can also lead to shin splints and is often mis-diagnosed.


Shin splints causes- Overload

Shin splints are commonly associated with sports that require a lot of running or weight bearing activity. However, it is not necessarily the added weight or force applied to the muscles and tendons of the lower leg, but rather the impact force associated with running and weight bearing activities that cause shin splints.

In other words, it's not the running itself, but the sudden shock force of repeated landings and change of direction that causes the problem. When the muscles and tendons become fatigued and overloaded, they lose their ability to adequately absorb the damaging shock force causing shin splints

Shin splints causes - Running up and downhill

Running up and downhill for extended periods can lead to shin splints. The increase loads placed thorught the leg running downhill can lead to bone shins splints. Furthermore the extra work that both tibialis posterior and tibialis anterior have to do when negotiating the forces of running up and downhills can cause posterior and anterior shin splints

Shin splints causes - Increasing exercise intensity or duration too quickly

A common problem particularly with beginners but is easily rectified if you suspect this might be the problem. Just rest for a week or so then start again with your training but more slowly. 


Shin splints causes - Poor footwear

Most athletes do not realise that footwear can have a major impact on causing lower limb injury. Most sports shoes have a finite lifespan and should be changed every 500-750 miles. For a more detailed breakdown click on our running shoe guide.

Other less common shin splints causes include;

  • Exercising on hard surfaces, like concrete;
  • Exercising on uneven ground;
  • Beginning an exercise program after a long lay-off period;
  • Exercising in worn out or ill fitting shoes.


Think you require treatment for your shin splints symptoms?

Visit our sports podiatry clinic pages for a clinic near you.