Why Do Your Shins Hurt After Running?

Shin splints are one of the most common running injuries for runners. Here’s why your shins hurt after running.

Sometimes the pain of shin splints can be intense. Just about every chubby runner can empathize with the pain and annoyance. We have a few tips you can use to treat and prevent sore shins so you can get on with your training.

Do your shins hurt after running?

Shin splints are medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome.

To diagnose shin splints, it feels like an aching pain on the front of your lower leg, on the shin bone, which is next to the tibia and calf muscles. If you don’t address the shin pain it can get so bad that it keeps you from running. Unattended it could lead to a stress fracture, and that can put a stop to your training for 6 weeks or more.

Reasons your shins hurt after running

If you have shin pain after running, your shins aren’t necessarily the reason for the pain.

The pain could be coming from tight calves or quadriceps. Tight ancillary muscles may fail to absorb the impact of each step, causing more stress on your shins as you run.

The pain could be a foot issue.

If you’re wearing improper shoes, then your shins could be compensating. The most important thing to know is when to rest when to jog when to use a foam roller, and when to get help if the pain is serious.

What causes your shins to hurt after running? 

New runners are more susceptible to shin splint pain.

Runners of every experience level can get shin splints, it tends to be more common with newer runners who jump into training too quickly. Overtraining too quickly can overuse the shins, causing pain and sometimes injury. 

What experts say about shin pain

Many experts agree that common causes of shin splints occur with a slight bending of the shin bone when the foot strikes the ground. This is especially apparent while running on hard surfaces. 

Experienced runners

In more experienced runners who are used to higher mileage training, the body tends to respond to shin splints by strengthening the tibia, making it thicker and harder. 

Newer runners

Less experienced runners that don’t have the benefit of tibia adaptation, are more susceptible to the injury. But even new runners have ways to prevent shin splints and treat them effectively when they happen.

Preventing shin pain

Here are some of the things you can do to cut the probability of shin splints from occurring:

Increase your mileage slowly

Your body needs time to adapt every time you crank up the mileage in your training. Ramping up the mileage too quickly can put extra stress on your legs. Increase your mileage slowly to give your body time to adapt and recover. Doing so will allow you to continue without injury. 

Keep running shoes in good condition 

Your shoes are your best friend. They protect and help you every step of the way. Pounding the pavement and the trail over time will cause them to break down. When that happens, it’s no time to be sentimental, replace them. Don’t cut corners on running shoes. They tend to be on the expensive side, but the right pair is well worth the investment.

Cross train

Day in and day out pounding the pavement, running has an impact on your joints, muscles, and bones. On the off days, cross-train with less impact cardiovascular and strength training sessions. This includes the following:

  • Cycling or spin classes
  • Swimming
  • Elliptical training
  • Rowing machines
  • Resistance or weight training
  • Yoga

Change up running surfaces

Constant pounding on hard pavement takes its toll on the body and your shoes. Switch it up. You don’t have to always run on hard surfaces. Find a dirt trail or try running on grass.

Calf exercises

Your calf muscles support your shins. One great way to prevent or treat sore shins is to strengthen the muscles that support them. 

Start with 20-30 calf raises on each leg and work up to three sets, at least 2 times per day. You can also stand on the edge of a stair and transfer your weight from one leg to the other as a way to strengthen those calf muscles. 

Treatment for when shins hurt after running

Even with the best efforts to prevent shin splints, they still may happen. With early treatment, chances are you’ll avoid more severe or prolonged pain down the road. Here are some of the best treatments to fix shin splints for good: 


Whenever I’ve got shin splints, ice is my best friend. Ice baths are great. Fill up a trash can with ice water to submerge your leg up to your knee. It’s gonna be freakin cold, but 20 minutes can do you a lot of good. You can also use ice packs or anything cold directly on your shins. Some cold is better than no cold.


Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory. Shin splints or shin pain are an inflammatory response. I love ibuprofen for pain. It usually does the trick. Depending upon the severity, ibuprofen can be used with other treatment options. A maximum of 500-600 mg per day while you heal should be sufficient. 


compression socks

With shin pain, the key is to slow blood flow and limit swelling. This can be done by wearing elastic compression bandages over your shins to support the bone and speed up healing. 

foam roller for hurting shins

Shins hurt after running, try a foam roller

If you’ve never used a foam roller, you will be a fan when you use it for shin pain. It may hurt initially, but over time you’ll receive a lot of relief. Just massage over your shins to reduce pain.

Orthotic inserts for your shoes 

There are a lot of inserts out there, some prescription and some over-the-counter. If you experience constant shin pain, talk to an orthopedic specialist so you can get yourself properly fitted. Finding the right orthotic can make all the difference, the wrong one will just continue to give you pain. 

Shins hurt after running, the bottom line

Your shins are a vital participant in your running journey. 

Strong shins can help to propel you throughout your training. Sore shins can derail training for a time. But as long as you listen to your body, and take care of your shins when they’re sore, you’ll help keep yourself healthy and running for years to come.