Shin splints are a common form of overuse injury in runners and other athletes. Certain risk factors are associated with its development, and these can help identify people who may benefit from preventive interventions.


The definition of shin splints varies:

(1) It involves exertional pain or discomfort.

(2) The location may involve the lower anterior leg or over the anterior tibia.

(3) It is a diagnosis of exclusion, requiring exclusion of stress fracture, compartment syndrome, and muscle herniations.


Risk Factors

weight and percent body fat

increased body fat

anatomic variations in the lower extremity

see below

aerobic endurance and conditioning

decreased physical fitness, fatigue


poor coordination, lack of experience


worn or inadequate

running surface

hard running surface, uneven terrain, running on hills

running parameters

sudden increase in running frequency, distance or duration; competitive running


excessive and forceful foot flexures (ballet)



past history

previous injury



• The table excludes controversial risk factors like age and gender.


Anatomic variations associated with shin splints:

(1) anterversion of the femoral neck

(2) genu valgus

(3) pes clavus

(4) foot hyperpronation

(5) joint laxity


Athletes with one or more risk factors are candidates for preventive measures.


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