Shin splints treatment plan

Shin splints treatment plan

Learn how the Exakt Health App can optimize your recovery.

Research-based treatment plan

We know that having shin splints can be really frustrating. Especially if you can’t access quality treatment advice immediately. Yes, you can find exercises on Google but how many repetitions should you do and are they even the right ones for you? When can you play sport again?

The Exakt Health app provides these answers

  • The app guides you safely from when your shin first becomes painful to full return to sport.
  • The shin splints treatment plan contains evidence-based exercises with clear guidance on reps, sets and frequency.
  • The app adapts the program according to your feedback and specific needs.
  • It implements a walk/run program for a safe return to running.
  • We’ve also included a maintenance program to prevent re-injury.
The shin splints treatment plan in the Exakt Health app provide daily workouts and treatment advice.
Achilles Tendinopathy Injury Details

The app teaches you about shin splints

Understanding what caused your case of shin splints, how it heals and when to see a doctor helps you better plan your recovery and prevent re-injury.

Medial tibial stress syndrome, also known as shin splints, develops when the area where the calf muscles attach to the inner part of the tibia (shin bone) becomes painful and sore. Researchers are not yet sure if it is the bone in that area that causes the pain or the fascia with which the muscles attach onto the bone.
It’s an overuse or overload injury which means that it develops because that part of your leg was put under more strain than what it could handle. The overload can happen suddenly, during one intense training session (acute overload) or slowly over several training sessions (cumulative overload).
  • Pain along the inner border of the shin bone spanning an area of about 10cm or more when you press on it.
  • It may initially hurt only during exercise but as it progresses it may also hurt after exercise and even just with walking around and with normal daily activities.
  • It usually doesn’t hurt when you’re resting and the pain doesn’t wake you up at night.
  • Downhill running often hurts more than running on the flat or up hills.
Shin splints can be treated effectively at home using a conservative exercise-based treatment plan as outlined in the app.
You should consider seeing a medical practitioner if you have any concerns about your injury, particularly if:
  • Your leg hurts when you’re lying down, or you have pain at night that keeps you awake or interrupts your sleep. This may mean that you have a stress fracture.
  • Any part of your leg (thigh, calf or foot) is very swollen, red, hot to touch, or throbs with pain. This can indicate that you have a blood clot and it should be investigated as soon as possible.
  • You feel pins and needles or tingling in your leg. This can indicate that you’ve also injured a nerve and our treatment plan may not be right for you.
  • Your symptoms are getting worse.
  • Your injury is not healing as expected.
Overload is the main cause but this can happen because of:
  • Weakness or lack of control around the hips and pelvis causing your leg to turn in more when you run.
  • Weakness or lack of control in your ankle and foot, causing you to over-pronate.
  • Sudden changes in training load e.g. increasing your running volumes too quickly or doing a lot of down hill running.
  • Shoes that are too flexible and increase over-pronation.
  • Training on hard surfaces e.g Astroturf


The right combination of rest and exercise is usually the most important intervention, but it has to be tailored to the individual. The most useful treatment for medial tibial stress syndrome include:
  • Load reduction: To allow the injury to settle and recover, you have to reduce your activities to a level that does not cause pain in your leg. This may mean switching running out for cycling or swimming.
  • Strength, balance and control training for the core and leg muscles should be started early as this will help to improve your movement pattern and off-load the injured area.
  • Exercises that strengthen the muscles in your feet and around the ankle should also be included but may have to be postponed until your injury has calmed down a bit.
  • Calf stretches can be useful but only once your injury is settled – stretching sensitive tissue will only make it more sensitive.
Other treatments that you may encounter:
  • Complete rest can be useful to help your pain calm down at first. It’s not advised to rest for a prolonged period, because it will weaken your muscles even further.
  • Massage can help to make your pain feel better but it does not actually strengthen the injured area.
  • Electrotherapy is currently not recommended.
  • Supportive insoles that reduce pronation may be of use if you over-pronate.
  • Shockwave may be useful in cases not responding to exercise therapy.
How long your recovery takes will depend on how long you waited before starting the correct treatment plan:
  • If your symptoms started less than 4 weeks ago = 12 to 16 week recovery
  • If your symptoms have been present for 4 to 12 weeks = 4 to 6 month recovery
  • If your symptoms have been present for longer than 3 months = 6 months or longer recovery


  • Strength train twice a week – the stronger your core and leg muscles, the less strain is put on your lower leg.
  • Include balance exercises – this develops your control and improves your movement patterns.
  • Allow enough recovery time between hard training sessions.
  • Avoid big increases in training volume or intensity.
  • You are more likely to injure yourself when you feel physically or mentally tired so make sure that you get plenty of sleep and if you do feel tired, adapt your training intensity accordingly.

The shin splints treatment plan consists of 7 stages

In order to regain full strength the workout intensities have to increase as your injury heals. The app ensures that you progress at the correct time by setting you clear targets for each stage.

Allow your injury to settle while you start building the base strength and control you need around your ankles, hips and core. Avoid deep calf stretches as well all jumping, hopping and running activities. You can progress to the next stage when you can complete the foot/ankle workouts and do 15 double leg heel raises without pain.

Start building strength in your calf muscles and further develop control in your core and legs. Avoid strong calf stretches, running and jumping activities. Continue to the next stage when you can walk short distances and complete the calf strength workouts without experiencing pain during or after completion.

Continue building strength in your calf muscles and restore their full range of motion. You’ll also further develop your control in your core and legs. Avoid strong calf stretches, running and jumping activities. Progress to the next stage when you can walk 30 minutes, complete the calf strength workouts and do the hop tests without increased pain.

You are now preparing your calves for a safe return to running. Start hopping exercises while the strength programme increases in difficulty. Avoid all running activities. Proceed to the next stage when you can walk at a brisk pace for 30 minutes and can do the assigned calf strength and plyometric workouts without pain.

You’re now ready to start a return to running program. The focus in your strength sessions will shift to just maintaining your strength and their frequency will reduce as your running volume increases. You should not yet attempt any high intensity running sessions e.g. tempo runs, interval training, or hill sessions. Progress to the next stage when you can jog for 20 minutes at an easy pace.

The focus is now on regaining your previous running endurance in your calves and other leg muscles. The strength workouts will maintain the strength that you’ve built in the previous stages. Avoid high intensity running e.g. tempo, sprint or hill sessions. You can progress to the next stage when you’re able to run your normal weekly running volume at your regular easy running pace pain free.

You can now start to train with increasing speed and intensity. You should continue with your weekly strength routine to support your running activities and reduce re-injury risk.

The shin splints treatment plan has 7 stages and the workouts increase in intensity as you grow stronger.
The Exact Health App contains treatment plans for common running injuries.

Recover faster. Now.

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