Can soccer players get shin splint (detailed explanation)

You've probably heard of shin splint, a condition affecting the shins. It is actually a collective term for various shin irritations. You can suffer from it in many different sports. But what about soccer? Can soccer players get shin splint?

Soccer players who train too much where the intensity is too high can get shin splints. Another cause is wearing the wrong soccer shoes that offer too little support. Soccer players with flat feet, feet that are tilted inward, unstable ankles or differences in leg length are also more at risk.

Be sure to read on if you want to know more about this topic. In this blog we explain, among other things, what exactly shin splint is, what the symptoms are, how you can treat it but also which famous soccer players have suffered from it.


What is shin splint?

Shin splint is actually a collective term for various irritations in/to the shin. The medical term for shin splints is medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS).

In the lower leg there are two bones namely the tibia and the fibula. Muscles are attached to the tibia. When these muscles become overloaded by, for example, too much running, the place where the muscle is attached to the bone can become overloaded. This overuse causes pain and irritation to the shinbone. 

Especially athletes who run a lot have an increased risk of shin splint. Because of this, runners in particular suffer a lot. Because a lot of miles are covered during a soccer game, there are also soccer players who can suffer from it. 

When you start exercising or do not exercise regularly and do so at a high intensity, shin splint can also develop.    

Other reasons why you can get shin splint can be read below.


How do you get shin splint as a soccer player?

There are several causes of how you can get shin splint. The following factors can make you more likely to get shin splint:

  • Playing untrained soccer too fast and too much. This is especially common among starting soccer players who do not follow a build-up training program. 
  • Training too much or playing too many soccer games can also be a cause. Especially if this happens at high intensity, the muscles become overloaded. 
  • If you have not exercised much (or not run at all) during a summer or winter break and then start playing soccer intensively again (training sessions and/or matches), you can get shin splints. 
  • Incorrect running technique can also be the cause. This puts extra strain on the muscles.
  • Playing a sport where you run a lot and stand still a lot. In some soccer games, this can often occur.
  • Sometimes anatomy comes into play: people with differences in leg length, feet that are naturally tilted inward, flat feet or ankle instability are at increased risk of shin splints. This is because it causes overuse at the shin. 
  • Wearing the wrong soccer shoes: if they offer too little support, this can lead to shin splints. Old soccer shoes can also be the cause. These no longer offer the proper support because they are worn out.

Symptoms of shin split

When you suffer from shin splint you can experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • After exercising, you feel a (sharp) pain in your shin. Some people describe it as a burning pain.
  • You feel the pain particularly at the front of your lower leg. 
  • The pain is particularly present in the middle or bottom of your shin. The pain can radiate to your knee or ankle.
  • It may hurt to put your foot down and push off with it.
  • Swelling may occur where it hurts.
  • By resting, the pain gradually disappears from your shin.

How can you treat shin splint?

If you suffer from any of the above symptoms, you want to get rid of them as soon as possible. Walking around with it is not going to help you get rid of it. This means you won't be able to play soccer for a while. 

You can treat shin splints in the following ways:

To get rid of shin splint, it is important to rest. If you suffer from any of the symptoms, it is important to rest for at least a week. 

Usually shin splint disappears after four weeks. If it does not, it is wise to contact your doctor. 

If necessary, cool the painful area with ice. Do this with an ice pack, for example. 

It is also possible to wear compression socks to reduce swelling and provide support to the leg.

Massaging the spot can make the muscle more flexible and improve blood flow. This is conducive to recovery.

Stretch exercises
Doing stretch exercises makes the muscle more flexible which is good for recovery and reduces the chances of it coming back.

This blog may also interest you
15 stretches every soccer player should do.

Can you prevent shin splint?

Of course, you would prefer not to get shin splint at all, but is this possible? 

As you have already read, there are several reasons why you can get shin splint. Unfortunately, there is never a 100% guarantee that you won't get shin splinters. For example, if your feet are tilted inward, or if one leg is longer than the other, you are more at risk.

Ways to reduce the risk of getting shin splint

  • Gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your training.
  • Wearing good soccer shoes (possibly with orthotics).
  • Maintaining and keeping good running form.
  • Stretching during and after training and in the warm-up before a game and after the game.
  • Taking enough rest.

Is shin splint common among soccer players?

Shin splint is an injury that is common among soccer players. This is because soccer involves a lot of running and jumping. During matches it also happens a lot that you have to run and suddenly stop quickly, for example when a player decides to go the other way. This increases the chances of contracting shin splints. 

Although there are no exact figures of how many soccer players have shin splint we do know that 10 to 15 percent of all running injuries are shin splint.

Since soccer involves a lot of running, we can assume that the number of soccer players with this injury is significant.

Which famous soccer players have shin splint?

Not many professional football players suffer from shin splints. This probably has to do with the fact that they train well and are well monitored in the process. In addition, the medical staff ensures that the body is well maintained. For example, they get sports massages

Still, it sometimes happens that professional soccer players get shin splints:

Curtis Jones
The Liverpool midfielder had to miss a number of matches in September 2022 because he suffered shin splints.

Ferland Mendy
In May of 2021, Real Madrid's French defender suffered shin splints. He had to miss the rest of the season as a result.

Phil Jones
It has been some time but the Manchester United defender missed a game against Chelsea in 2014 due to shin splints.


Like many other athletes, soccer players can get shin splints. This is because they have to run a lot during a game. In addition, jumping is also a factor in developing shin splint. Something a soccer player has to do a lot in order to head the ball.

Once you have it, rest is the most important thing to do. Fortunately, you also know the other ways to ensure that it promotes recovery. 

Now you also know what you can do to reduce the chances of shin splint. Hopefully, you won't suffer this injury.

February 22, 2023
Published: February 22, 2023