Tips to Prevent Shin Splints - BenchMark Physical Therapy

Tips to Prevent Shin Splints


Medically reviewed by Misty Seidenburg

Shin splints are a common injury for avid runners and athletes. The discomfort while running or engaging in physical activity can sap the enjoyment out of running for many, but the good news is that it’s an injury that can be addressed with physical therapy and some activity modifications.

Learn more about shin splints, symptoms to be on the lookout for, and the things you can do to prevent shin splints and ensure that you can continue to enjoy running.

What are shin splints and what can cause shin splints?

Shin splints are an injury that can be felt along the shin bone, the tibia

  • Wearing improper footwear
  • Engaging in repetitive, high-intensity exercises without rest or recovery
  • Exercising on uneven or extremely hard surfaces
  • Not seeking adequate treatment to address shin splints before they become worse
  • The good news, is that shin splints are one of the many running injuries that can be treated by physical therapy at one of our physical therapy nationwide locations.

    Signs of Potential Shin Splint Injury

    It is very important to know the signs of shin splints so you can be on the lookout for them and can seek treatment as soon as possible so you don’t have to deal with the discomfort they may cause when you’re training. As mentioned earlier, shin splint pain tends to occur along the tibia, or shin bone.

    One of the signs of this injury can be noticed as a dull or aching pain along the lower part of the shin. This pain can occur after engaging in high-intensity activities like running or jumping. While that pain may be manageable at first, it can persist and grow in severity if it continues to be left untreated.

    Swelling is also a symptom of shin splints as well. Continuing to engage in certain strenuous activities can exacerbate the pain, such as high-intensity workouts or being on your feet for long periods.

    Another symptom that can be typically felt when experiencing shin splints is discomfort when pressure is applied to that lower leg. With a shin splint injury, stiffness and soreness are common.

    Sometimes, when experiencing these symptoms and pains, it can be easy to confuse a shin splint with a stress fracture.

    To avoid a misdiagnosis, you should speak with a qualified healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and accurate treatment plan. Our licensed physical therapists can work with you to identify the underlying cause of your discomfort and get you on a treatment plan tailored to your unique needs and goals.

    Tips to Prevent Shin Splints

    Shin splints can deter you from engaging in the level of activity or intensity that you may desire. But there is good news — there are ways to prevent shin splints from hindering your performance and capabilities. Before beginning any new exercise or stretching routine, you should consult with a qualified healthcare professional.

    Take a look at some of the best practices to avoid dealing with this lower leg injury and see how physical therapy can help you treat shin splints:

    Manage Your Training Regimen

    One of the ways to help prevent shin splints is by having an effective training regimen. As an athlete, one of the last things you need is for something to hinder your performance as any injury or discomfort may hamper your ability to progress in your training and enjoyment of the activity. As mentioned earlier, one of the potential contributing factors to developing shin splints is the amount of training and high-intensity activities you participate in. Over the course of a week or two, write down how often you train, when, where, what exercises you did, and how you felt afterward.

    Keeping track of your training can help you identify whether you’re overtraining and not giving your body adequate amounts of rest. It can also help you identify whether or not there are specific scenarios that might contribute to your shin splint discomfort more than others and you can work to avoid those types of activities in the future.

    Add Low-Impact Activities

    Another practice to implement into your training regimen is to incorporate low-impact activities. Low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, or yoga can still benefit your body over time without straining your joints and they can also help you adjust your training routine without stressing out your shin splints as your body recovers.

    In addition to switching up your exercise routine with low-impact activities, you should also consider switching to low-impact running surfaces. Instead of running on pavement all of the time, consider running on grass or turf which can help to reduce the hard impact on your legs as your feet make contact with the ground.

    Focus on Building Strength

    The next thing you can do to actively reduce the chances of developing shin splints is to focus on building strength while exercising. Building muscles and improving the strength of your lower legs will help to alleviate some of the stress that is placed upon the tibia muscles and can help you improve your overall posture and lower-body alignment to ensure that you’re running with proper form during your training sessions.

    Stretch and Warm Up Properly

    Another thing you can do to prevent shin splints is to implement a warmup and stretching routine. A light warmup and stretching routine can help to increase blood flow to the muscles and gives the body an opportunity to prepare for an effective training session, practice, or game while reducing the risk of injuries or initial strain on the muscles.

    Take a Look at your Footwear

    Another way to prevent shin splints is by paying attention to your footwear. As athletes or individuals who live active lives, it can also be crucial to your overall health to make sure that you have the proper footwear, whether tackling low or high-intensity activities. Proper footwear can provide the support and stability needed to endure physical activity.

    Tailoring your footwear to your routine is key if you want to avoid shin splints to the best of your ability. For example, engaging in high-intensity workouts in an inadequate pair of shoes can subject you to increased forces and stress through the lower leg. Paying attention to the quality of your footwear can help to ensure the best support for your lower limbs and reduce the chances of getting shin splints.

    Getting Adequate Rest and Recovery

    Making time for rest and recovery after a workout is essential when aiming to avoid shin splints. When the lower leg muscles are being used more than usual without being compensated with proper rest, they may become more susceptible to injury. Recovering from low or high-intensity workouts allows for the muscle to grow stronger, increase in endurance, and ensure that you’re ready for the next day’s activities.

    Staying Hydrated

    Adequate hydration is important to ensure that you’re giving your body the nutrients it needs to recover and avoid the development of shin splints. Without proper fluid intake, you may subject yourself to dehydration, which typically can lead to low energy levels, body cramps, and may have a negative impact on your performance. We encourage you to drink water throughout the day, especially when exercising.
    While sports drinks can help to replenish electrolytes after high impact or intense workouts, adequate amounts of water is also essential to your overall health. Paying attention to your hydration levels can help ensure you engage fully in your workouts and daily activities.

    Address Shin Splint Pain with Physical Therapy

    Don’t just put up with the pain, seek treatment for it with physical therapy when you begin to feel discomfort or want to ensure that you’re doing all you can to optimize your training. Physical therapy can be an effective treatment option for individuals who are dealing with shin splint pain. Your physical therapist will work with you to identify the underlying cause of your pain and work with you to develop an effective treatment plan based on your unique needs and goals.
    Request an appointment today to see how physical therapy can help you address shin splint pain.

    Stop Exercising When You Begin to Feel Discomfort

    When you’re training, you shouldn’t “push through the pain”, as pain is your body telling you to slow down. The last thing you should do is try to put up with it. Instead, you should seek care from a qualified professional like a physical therapist who can help you identify the underlying cause and help you reduce and alleviate the pain you’re experiencing from shin splints.

    Focus On Form

    The next way you can work to prevent shin splints from developing is to focus on proper form. Instead of solely focusing on endurance and intensity of your workouts, you should also focus on ensuring the proper form while running. Running with an improper form may lead to an injury and could be one of the contributing factors to your shin splint pain. Dial it back on intensity during your workouts and carve out dedicated periods of your training sessions to ensure you’re working on your form and key fundamentals.

    Treat Shin Splints with Physical Therapy

    Shins splints are not something fun to deal with for athletes and avid runners. There are preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of them happening to you or to seek treatment when they happen. Focusing on these measures such as proper training regimen, adequate footwear, prioritizing rest and recovery between workouts, and staying hydrated can help to minimize the risk of experiencing shin splints. Doing so also allows your muscles to recover and grow stronger over time.

    At BenchMark Physical Therapy, we have a team of dedicated experts who are equipped to assess your injuries and implement effective treatment plans to address them. We encourage you to be proactive on your journey to more optimal health by seeking physical therapy treatment for any discomfort you may be experiencing.

    Schedule a physical therapy evaluation at a nearby location!


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    2. “Shin Splints or a Stress Fracture? How to Tell.”,
    3. “Low-Impact Workouts: What They Are, Health Benefits, and Getting Started.”, 27 July 2023,
    4. Trainers, FAST. “Why Athletes Need an Effective Dynamic Warm Up.” FAST-Training, 22 Apr. 2015,
    5. “How to Fix Shin Splints While Running | ASICS.”,
    6. Carlton, Andrew, and Robin Marc Orr. “The Effects of Fluid Loss on Physical Performance: A Critical Review.” Journal of Sport and Health Science, vol. 4, no. 4, Dec. 2015, pp. 357–63, Accessed 15 May 2019.
    7. “Wahl USA.” Wahl USA, 2022,
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    Medically reviewed by

    Misty Seidenburg

    Vice President of Clinical Programs

    Dr. Misty Seidenburg has been a practicing physical therapist since 2006 after obtaining her Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree from Gannon University. Dr. Seidenburg completed an Orthopedic Residency in 2009 and subsequent Spine Fellowship in 2010 where she discovered a passion for educating clinicians. Since 2019, she has developed and refined several post-professional residency and fellowship programs and currently serves as the Vice President of Clinical Programs for Upstream Rehab Institute. She serves on several APTA committees to help advance the profession, is adjunct faculty at Messiah University, and is also a senior instructor and course developer for the Institute of Advanced Musculoskeletal Treatments with a special interest in exercise integration. Outside of work, she enjoys challenging herself with new adventures and is currently competing as an endurance athlete.

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