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Shin Pain

General Anatomy

Provides structural support for the body and serves as an anchor points for ligaments and tendons.

Ligaments are non-elastic tissues which connect one bone to another bone giving our body structure its stability. When frequently or severely injured, ligaments become "stretched out" causing the joint to become loose or more unstable. Ligaments have a poor blood supply so have a tendency to heal more slowly than other tissues. Injuries to ligaments are called "sprains".

Tendons are elastic tissues that connect a muscle to a bone.

Muscles are elastic tissues. Muscles and tendons work together to create the body's motion. Injuries to muscles and tendons are called "strains".

Cartilage is the spongy material that lines the ends of the bones. It works as the body's "shock absorber", helping to cushion the impact placed upon the bones during activity as well as directly protecting the ends of the bones. This is called articular cartilage.

Bursa are fluid filled sacs that lie between tissues or tissues and bones preventing friction.


The lower leg is comprised of two major bones; the tibia and the fibula. The connect to the upper thigh bone, femur, and the ankle by ligaments. The tibia is commonly known as the shin bone and is the weight bearing bone in the lower leg. The fibula is located on the outside of the leg and doesn't actually have any weight placed on it while walking.

Diagram of the Tibia and Fibula Posterior View of the Tibia and Fibula


The tibia and fibula are connected to the femur, thigh bone, by the knee ligaments.

  1. 1. MCL (Medical Collateral Ligament)
  2. 2. LCL (Lateral Collateral Ligament)
  3. 3. PCL (Posterior Collateral Ligament)
  4. 4. ACL (Anterior Collateral Ligmanet)

The tibia and fibula are connected to the ankle by the ankle ligaments.

Ligaments on the outside of the angle.

The major ligaments in the ankle that are most commonly sprained are located on the outside of the ankle. These are sprained with "inversion sprains)

  • Anterior Talofibular Ligament
  • Calcaneofibular Ligament
  • Posterior Talofibular Ligament
  • Deltoid Ligament

Ligaments on the inside of the ankle. This is sprained with "eversion sprains".

Ligaments of the Knee Black and White Diagram of Ankle Ligaments Color Diagram of Ankle Ligaments


The muscles of the lower leg are classified by departments: the posterior, anterior and lateral compartments.

Posterior Compartment (3 muscles)
These muscles form the achilles tendon. The more flexible and strong these muscles are, the less prone you are to achilles tendon injuries, ankle sprains and plantarfascitis.

This is what we all call our "calf muscle". It is the largest and strongest of the lower leg muscles. This muscle is most active when the leg is straight helping to point the ankle and bend the knee.

Plantaris (below the Gastrocnemius)
This muscle is absent in about 10-15% of the population.

Helps point the foot when the knee is bent.

Tibialis Posterior
This is helps support the arch of the foot. Commonly involved in shin splints.

Flexor Digitorum Longus
Curls the toes of the foot and helps point the foot

Flexor Hallucis Longus
This is the muscle of the big toe; it helps to curl it. It also helps point the ankle and turn the ankle inward.

Lateral Compartment (2 muscles)
These muscles help pull the ankle outward. These are important in stabilizing the ankle and play a key role in the rehabilitation of an ankle sprain. If a person sprains their ankle and stretches out the ligaments; these muscles will aid in better stabilizing the ankle.

  • Peroneus Longus
  • Peroneus Brevis

Anterior Compartment (4 muscles)

Tibialis Anterior
This helps to pick up the foot. This often becomes weak in older people as they become less active. As the muscles gets weak, it is harder to pick up the foot so that the toes can clear the ground when walking leading to a higher risk of falls.

Extensor Digitorum Longus
This muscles helps to lift up or extend the toes

Extensor Digitorum Hallucis
This muscle lifts or extends the big toe.

Peroneus Tertius

Rear View of Shin Muscles Side View of Shin Muscles Front View of Shin Muscles