Shin-splints is a common injury that is typically seen in athletes who do a lot of running or jumping and is characterized by pain in the front portion of the lower leg along the tibia.
What is Shin-Splints?
This injury occurs typically when athletes overload the area or make an error in training. Often it is related to changes in the training program such as an increase in running distance, intensity, and/or duration. Running on a hard or uneven surface as well as old or inappropriate running shoes (ones with poor shock absorption capacity) may also be contributing factors.
At first symptoms are usually felt at the beginning of the workout, often disappearing while exercising, only to return during the cool-down period. When shin splints get worse the pain can remain during exercise and be present for hours or days after cessation of the inducing activity.
If pain persists it’s a good idea to see your doctor. Some more serious injuries that may present as shin splints include:
- Stress fractures
- Exertional compartment syndrome
- Vascular deficiencies
Here are some tips to avoid shin-splints:
- Avoid making drastic changes in your training program
- Wear proper running shoes with good shock absorption
- Use orthotics
- Implement a good strengthening and stretching program
Also, make sure to change out running shoes every 300-500 miles. After a distance of that amount shoes can lose up to 40% of their shock absorbing capability.
Some stretches and exercises that can help treat this condition include:
- Calf stretches – begin by standing with the leg you wish to stretch behind the other. While holding onto a stable surface lean forwards bending the front leg slightly and keep the back heel on the ground. Lean until a sufficient stretch can be felt in the calf and hold that position for 30 seconds.
- Eccentric heel raises – standing on a step lift yourself up using both feet then slowly lower your body using only the affected leg.
- Single leg balance – begin by balancing on the affected side on a flat surface, once that can be done easily progress to balancing on an unstable surface such as a foam pad or pillow.
How Can Physical Therapy Help?
Physical therapists can help treat this condition through the use of manual therapy, therapeutic exercise prescription, and a return to exercise protocol tailored to each patient. If you or a loved one are experiencing pain, we would like to help! Here at Advanced Orthopedic Physical Therapy we are offering free screens with our therapists where you will be able to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.