can shin splints cause fracture?

I heard and read that sometimes shin splints will develop into a fracture. If true, how likely is this to happen? How can this be prevented while in training, and not taking time off?
My indoor season hasn’t even started yet (starts January) and I will be competing until July. If I have shin splints now, I wonder how I’m going to hold off until July, especially if there’s a threat of a fracture :confused: .
Is it possible for my shin splints to go away (only left leg for the time being) at some point even while continuing to train?

I have the same problem with an athlete of mine - joined my group about 6 weeks ago. She is 17, had a stress fracture last year, and suffer with shin splints lately … where all the problems started before.

I have tried everything that I know to help her to get rid of the pain - turning pages of a magazine with her toes, ice, “writing” the a-b-c with a foot in the air, walking on heels, walking on toes, etc etc.

Do you have a solution? Please help!!

Keep icing, dont overtrain, listen to the body and use theraband type exercises, where you connect one end of the band to a leg of a table and the other end around ankle and do exercises that promote dorsi and plantar flexion. ALso, inversion & eversion, side to side and keeping icing icing icing…

What do you mean by inversion and eversion?

Also known as pronate (evert) and supinate (invert). For a visual just do a google search for these terms, you should find some pics with the hits.

The only cure for shin splints is to remove the cause of the problem (misalignment), NOT treating the symptom (pain). There are of course many ways to achieve alignment of the load joints, but I have had (as have thousands of others) success with the Egoscue method ( If you are after a quick fix then you might want to try structural integration or something, although that isn’t a permanent solution alone.

Can you elborate on what you mean by misalignment?

Simply put, the load joints (shoulders, hips, knees and ankles) should be vertically aligned with a normal S-curve of the spine. Also the right and left halves of the body should match up, i.e. the joint pairs are level. This can be achieved completely or to the point of relieving pain symptoms practically with everybody willing to change their daily motion stimulus.

To give an example, my little sister (16) throws the javelin and runs the 100. Two years ago she had severe shoulder pain which almost ruined her whole season. She practically couldn’t throw at all for over a year before we did a postural analysis and started correcting the cause of the pain. The cause was not the rotator cuff, although it was the rotator cuff that was hurting (we had done stregthening exercises for the rotator cuff before). She had forward rounded shoulders (as do most people nowadays) which was caused by thoracic flexion which again was caused by instability and balance issues in the hips. So no matter how much strengthening was done for the rotator cuff the pain would have stayed without addressing the underlying problem, functional weakness of the hips. She also had shin splints and ankle pronation because of this, but they also have improved markedly. Today her shoulder is free of pain and we are looking forward to 50m next summer in the javelin. The shins are almost pain free, they get sore only when running on mondo surface, but when the hips are fully functional (in a few weeks or months) I expect the shin pain to disappear completely.

overtraining/incomplete recovery and force absorbtion ability are 2 major factors

First you can’t absorb force without proper alignment. The force gets absorbed in the wrong structures. So you are correct, but this is what I was talking about. I mean you can’t improve your “force absorbtion ability” without correcting the misalignments.

Overtraining isn’t the cause. You really don’t have to train a lot to get painful shins if you have the misalignments to cause shin splints. When the alignment is in place, simple fatigue will stop you from hurting yourself.

Actually, forcer absorption could be a casuse of them, I believe he means that its the kind of force affecting the wrong structures (as you mentioned) rather than the correct way to absorb them. Also, overtraining can be a cause in the long run if doing this incorrectly, ie. wrong footwear, training surfaces, etc, although, from my experience, both 1st and 2nd hand, I find that many times shint splints are one of the major causes of de-training at the beginning of ones running career. Mainly due to the above mentioned and b/c the muscle(s) in the area are not fully developed yet for that type of training & intensity (on toes and forces).

So we agree on the force absorbtion issue, but I have to disagree on the overtraining issue. It doesn’t matter if the training surface is grass or mondo, the shoes are the latest Nikes or the cheapest pair from a discount hall - that is if you are structurally functional. It is actually better to have as little shoe as possible so that the foot can “read and react” according to the surface.

Why aren’t the muscles fully developed in the first place? They should be, from playing, crawling on all fours, running, jumping, rolling, hanging, climbing etc. etc. that kids do for hours per day. When this play doesn’t happen - as it doesn’t because of cars, TV, computers, etc. - then the muscles aren’t ready. What I am trying to say here is that we (humans) are ‘designed’ to run and jump by nature, and do this without pain. The modern sedentary lifestyle is what is the cause. We sit hours a day from a very early age when we should be developing important functions by moving around in various ways. When a child that has sit in a playpen, car seat, in front of TV, school etc. enters the world of sports bad things will happen sooner or later. Another major point is that even professional athletes have these same problems although they are not weak - they are functionally weak.

I see where you are going with this, and I agree with many points you have outlined, however, I must still say that although sedentary lifestyle can be a cause (I agree), maybe even the biggest factor or contributor, muscles dont necessarily mean that they have fully developed for the sport specific attributes required just b/c one has gone through life crawling, jumping, etc b/c keep in mind that sprinters when they begin are often surprised to learn that you have to start to run on your toes (it surprises them) and having your foot plantar flexed like that for the first time on a consistent basis (overtraining AT THE START) puts tremendous forces on the shins which can cause bad things such as shin splints, and rarely but do happen, stress fractures, etc.

What I am saying is that although humans are designed to do all the things you mentioned above, those are functional activities requiring functional structures to be able to yield those functional movements…this does not necessarily mean sprinting movements (at the elite level, I don’t mean someone who decides to run fast), b/c if it did then most people (athletes) starting out as sprinters should not get shin splints.

I am not sure I understand you correctly, but yes running requires funtional structures and that’s why even elite sprinters get hurt. They don’t have a functional structure in place. The body uses compensation to accomplish movement patterns that are gone because of dysfunction. It is this compensation that causes the misalignments and eventually injuries. Another example: you can breathe without fully using the diaphragm, but this greatly suppresses oxygen intake. Running on your toes is another basic function that either developes in the early years or it doesn’t. If the kid who enters the track team doesn’t run on his/her toes that means there is a reason: dysfunction (mainly inablitity of the pelvis to move freely from flexion to extension) because of inactivity (prolonged sitting, i.e. spine and hips in flexion). Women who use high heels experience low back pain because of the very same reasons :wink: The good news is that you can fix these misalignments by yourself by providing the necessary stimulus to the body.

Agreed, I think I am a littel more clear on what you’re trying to convey.

they don’t have any clinics in new jersey sadly :frowning: i’d really like a fix for my 2 year shin splints…did i mention i haven’t run track in over 8 months and i still have them?

Check the affiliates list from Locations and see if there is anyone near by. Or call or e-mail the clinic and see when they have travel clinics in your area. I feel your pain since I had the same problem for at least 6 years (tried fasciotomy, orthotics, physical therapy etc. etc.) and this forced me to stop my athletics career. I hope you don’t have to stop running.

Is knee pain associated with shin splints? My knee started hurting about 2 weeks after the shin pain began.

Foot bone is connected to shin bone, shin bone connected to knee bone, etc. :smiley: You are right on money. Soon it might be your low back or shoulder, so treat the body as a unit and it will start its own repairing process. Happy holidays!

I have my athletes do light speed power drills in the LJ pit twice a week, plus things like walking on the toes, walking on the heels etc. Things to strenghten the lower legs and improve mobility in the lower leg. I do this regardless if they have shins or not. It bores them senseless but I have not had a athlete with shins in almost five years.

On treatment I don’t really have a cure. I just feel that you should not apply presure to where it hurts. Ice, rest and all of the rest. I have heard loads of cures and things most of which I have not seen work, things like mixing aloe juice with asprin and mixing asprin into all kinds of creams and applying it to the leg. I think a good course of anti inflamitories and rest is the only cure. Have your feet checked out as well as your alignment as mentioned above.