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What Are Shin Splints? Why Might You Have Them?

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Cain Leathers

Shin splints as seen in Cain's weekly rundown on 11/7/2022

Cain Leathers
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Cain Leathers

Shin splints are the most common cause of lower-leg pain in athletes. “Shin splints” is an umbrella term that refers to a number of conditions that cause pain along the inside shin.

Here are some reasons why you may be falling victim to shin splints:

You started a new sport or upped your training intensity. 

Shin splints are common when someone is starting a new type of activity or increasing their training load as tissues respond to increased use.

You are either wearing the wrong shoes or your shoes are too worn out.

Shoes that don't offer the proper support and cushioning can trigger shin splints. A typical pair of shoes has a life span of about 300-500 miles, with performance-oriented shoes being much shorter in life (carbon-plated shoes, racing flats, etc.).

You are running on hard surfaces. 

This is especially true if you're making a lot of starts and stops or jumping. Running solely on sidewalks can also contribute to this. Try a paved, gravel, or dirt running trail every so often to switch things up!

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You are running on hilly or uneven terrain. 

Workouts that make your legs and feet readjust frequently can increase the likelihood of shin splints. Ease into these workouts by adding one or two days of hill running into your training cycle.

You have preexisting foot and ankle problems. 

These can include (but not limited to) flat feet, high arches, or overpronation. Head to your local running store for a free gait analysis to see what shoes can accommodate your needs! Everyone’s body is different, and there’s a shoe out there for everyone.

You may have poor running form. 

This can include your feet hitting the ground too forcefully at the heel or running heavily on your toes (which can also cause tight calf muscles). The most optimal strike for energy distribution is between your mid-to-forefoot. Think about the ball of your foot hitting the ground first next time you head out for a run. 


Often, shin splints can be treated with rest and ice. If pain persists, see your doctor! Remember, resting today can give you so many more days of running in the future!

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Shin splints as seen in Cain's weekly rundown on 11/7/2022