Shin splints is a type of shin pain, usually caused by exercise. It's not serious and there are things you can do to help get better.
Check if you have shin splints
Shin splints usually happen when you do exercise like running.
You'll have pain and tenderness along the front of your lower leg (shin).
Things you can do to help with shin splints
Shin splints usually get better within a few weeks. There are things you can do to get better quicker.
put an ice pack (or bag of frozen vegetables) in a towel on your shin for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours
switch to gentle exercise such as yoga or swimming while healing
exercise on soft ground, if you can, when you're feeling better
make sure your trainers or shoes support your feet properly
do not continue doing the exercise that caused your shin splints
do not rush back into exercise at the level you were at – build your exercise routine back up slowly
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- you've tried things to help with shin splints but the pain is getting worse or it's not getting better
Treatment for shin splints
If a GP thinks you have shin splints they'll ask about your symptoms and examine your leg. If it's not getting better, they may be able to refer you to a physiotherapist.
Physiotherapy is available free of charge on the NHS throughout the UK but waiting times can be long. You can also get it privately.
Self-refer for treatment
If you have shin splints, you might be able to refer yourself directly to services for help with your condition without seeing a GP.
To find out if there are any services in your area:
- ask the reception staff at your GP surgery
- check your GP surgery's website
- contact your integrated care board (ICB) – find your local ICB
- search online for NHS treatment for shin splints near you
Urgent advice: Get help from NHS 111 if:
- you have shin splints and the pain is severe
- you've injured your shin
You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.
Causes of shin splints
Shin splints happen when you've put too much stress on your leg.
You're more likely to get shin splints if:
- you have started exercising after not being active for some time
- you run or jump on hard surfaces
- you do not have a good running technique
Page last reviewed: 9 February 2023
Next review due: 9 February 2026