Shin pain—often referred to as shin splits—is a common overuse injury among teen athletes. Shin pain causes a dull or aching pain and tenderness along the inside of the lower leg or shin bone.

An athlete may first notice the pain after running. If left untreated, without taking a break from activity, the pain can occur both during and after running. It may develop into a stress fracture.

Some causes of shin splints include:

  • Running downhill
  • Running on uneven or hard surfaces
  • Improper running form
  • Increasing mileage or running intensity too quickly
  • Old or worn-out shoes
  • Over pronation, or flat feet
  • Sports requiring repetitive activity, like soccer, basketball or cross country running


At Children’s we conduct a thorough physical exam, which may include running on a treadmill to look for mechanical flaws and x-rays to look for small fractures of the shin bones.

Our sports therapists can show the athlete ways to properly warm up, stretch and strengthen the leg muscles to recover from shin splints and prevent the injury from coming back. We also have a Running Program that helps athletes who are injured, who want to prevent injury or want to enhance their performance.


  • Wear shoes with more support and cushioning.
  • Wear a compression sleeve to warm and protect the leg.
  • Do exercises to strengthen the leg.
  • Stop activity if the pain comes back.