It can be frustrating if you have to stop an activity that you enjoy. But you really do need to stop doing what caused the shin splints until the pain no longer returns. If you don’t rest enough, it may take longer to recover fully. But this doesn't mean you have to give up exercise completely. You can keep active by doing sports that don't put any strain on your shins, such as swimming or cycling.
If you have shin splints, you’ll get pain in your lower leg when exercising. The pain is usually along the inner edge of the lower two thirds of your tibia (shin bone). It can be quite severe. This area may also feel tender to the touch. The pain goes away when you rest. For more information, see our section on symptoms of shin splints.
The pain of shin splints comes on when you exercise and goes away when you rest. This will keep happening until you take a long period of rest from the activity which caused them. This may be from two to six weeks, but may be longer.
To heal shin splints, you need to stop doing the activity which caused the pain for a period of at least two to six weeks. Then very gradually build up your activity again. A physiotherapist can help you recover from shin splints and advise you how to prevent them in future. For more information, see our section on treatment of shin splints.
You may have come across the use of compression stockings or taping for treating or preventing shin splints. At the moment, there is no strong evidence that either of these treatments work. If you are considering using them, talk to your physiotherapist about how they may help in your particular circumstances.
Did our Shin splints information help you?
We’d love to hear what you think. Our short survey takes just a few minutes to complete and helps us to keep improving our health information.
This information was published by Bupa's Health Content Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals and deemed accurate on the date of review. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition.
Any information about a treatment or procedure is generic, and does not necessarily describe that treatment or procedure as delivered by Bupa or its associated providers.
The information contained on this page and in any third party websites referred to on this page is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice nor is it intended to be for medical diagnosis or treatment. Third party websites are not owned or controlled by Bupa and any individual may be able to access and post messages on them. Bupa is not responsible for the content or availability of these third party websites. We do not accept advertising on this page.
- Shin splints. Patient. patient.info/doctor, last edited January 2015
- Shin splints. The MSD Manuals. www.msdmanuals.com, last full review/revision January 2020
- McClure CJ, Oh R. Medial tibial stress syndrome. [Updated 2021 May 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Musculoskeletal problems. Oxford Handbook of General Practice (online). Oxford Medicine Online. www.oxfordmedicine.com, published June 2020
- Shin splints. OrthoInfo. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. orthoinfo.aaos.org, last reviewed August 2019
- Chronic exertional compartment syndrome. Medscape. www.emedicine.medscape.com, updated January 2021
- Stress fractures. Medscape. www.emedicine.medscape.com, updated March 2020
- First aid in general practice. Patient. patient.info/doctor, last edited February 2017
- Bone tumours. Patient. patient.info/doctor, last edited June 2015
- Compartment syndrome. Patient. patient.info/doctor, last edited January 2015
- Bliekendaal S, Moen M, Fokker Y, et al. Incidence and risk factors of medial tibial stress syndrome: a prospective study in physical education teacher education students. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med 2018; 4(1):e000421, published October 2018
- Sprains and strains. NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries. cks.nice.org.uk, last revised April 2020
- Galbraith RM, Lavallee ME. Medial tibial stress syndrome: conservative treatment options. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med 2009; 2(3):127–33. doi: 10.1007/s12178-009-9055-6
- Hamstra-Wright KL, Huxel Bliven KC, Bay C. Risk factors for medial tibial stress syndrome in physically active individuals such as runners and military personnel: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med 2015; 49:362–69
- Reinking MF, Austin TM, Richter RR, et al. Medial tibial stress syndrome in active individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis of risk factors. Sports Health 2017; 9(3):252–61. doi: 10.1177/1941738116673299
- Winters M, Eskes M, Weir A, et al. Treatment of medial tibial stress syndrome: a systematic review. Sports Med 2013; 43(12):1315–33. doi: 10.1007/s40279-013-0087-0
- Personal communication, John Fairhurst, Senior Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, July 2021