Health A-Z

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What Is It?

Shin splints are injuries that commonly occur in runners. They cause pain along the inner side of the shinbone (tibia).

Shin splints develop because of overuse of the posterior tibialis muscle in the lower leg near the shin. In most cases, this overuse is related to a sudden increase in the intensity of an athlete's training program — suddenly running faster, farther or for longer periods than before. When shin splints first appear, the leg pain tends to start near the end of a training session. However, if the athlete ignores the pain tries to "run through it," symptoms eventually will begin earlier and earlier during training, until they affect the athlete's overall performance.

Although shin splints are most common in runners, they also can occur in basketball players, soccer players and other athletes in sports that require periods of intense or prolonged running. Even walkers are at risk if they walk too fast or too far.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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