Just Trying Tibia Honest!

by Rachel Varga, Registered Physiotherapist

Shin splints are an injury also known as medial tibial stress syndrome. It is an issue that presents as pain in the lower leg, running along an area on the tibia (shin) bone known as the posteromedial tibial border. It is most common among people who are involved in repetitive loading activities, such as running and jumping.

Shin splints are considered a pain condition caused by exercise. While we cannot say with absolute certainty what causes shin splints during movement, there are a couple of proposed mechanisms for it, along with many contributing factors.

The first potential mechanism of injury involves a traction, or a “pulling,” force on the tibia (shin) bone from deep muscles in the calf region of the lower leg. These muscles include the soleus, tibialis posterior, and flexor digitorum longus.

Photos showing muscle pull on the tibia bone.

flexor digitorum longus


tibialis posterior

The second reason might be due to overload on the tibia bone itself. When the bone is exposed to repetitive stress without adequate recovery time, this can create an inability for the bone to repair fully. Con This mismatch between activity and rest can contribute to the prolonged pain and inflammation commonly felt in the shin area.

Research does support the second theory more. Therefore, it is especially important to address the issue as soon as possible to prevent increased bony overload and, in turn, a more significant injury, such as a stress fracture.

Risk factors that might contribute to the development of shin splints include, but are not limited to:


  • Flat feet or high arches
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Ankle joint weakness
  • Stiff ankles and toes
  • Poor balance


  • Training intensity, frequency, and duration
  • Training errors
  • Training surface
  • Footwear
  • Previous injury history

Overall, shin splints are a condition that can be diagnosed clinically following a thorough examination by a physiotherapist. Additionally, it can be effectively treated with conservative care and appropriate, graded exercise loading programs!

If you are someone who thinks they might be dealing with shin splints and want to get to the bottom of what might be causing it, book an appointment with our Registered Physiotherapist, Rachel Varga, at Synergy Sports Medicine East on the Danforth!

Rachel VargaRachel Varga

Physiotherapist – B.A. Hons (Kin), MSc.PT
Rachel Varga is a physiotherapist practicing at Synergy Sports Medicine, East End (2017 Danforth Avenue)


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