Shin Splints 101: Treatment and Prevention Tips
What in the world are shin splints? Medically referred to as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, the culprit of that intense shin pain results from micro tears in the muscle and bone tissue – typically from doing too much, too soon. Shin splints can occur in two places: below the knee or on the inside of the leg.
How do shin splints occur?
Now that the weather is getting warmer and people are starting to dust off their running shoes and trek outdoors to run, it is not uncommon to develop this uncomfortable sensation due to lack of training because these muscles are now being asked to perform at high intensity after a winter hibernation.
Shin splints can also occur from:
- Wearing improper footwear
- Starting a new activity with a poor conditioning level
- Having to train on a new surface (i.e. turf vs. grass fields)
- Having feet that are prone to excessively pronate
Shin splints are typically diagnosed by physical therapists based on patient/athlete history, pain description and location, painful and potentially weak strength testing, and assessment of foot posture and functional movement patterns during weight-bearing activities.
Pain not going away?
See a physical therapist! Rehabilitation for shin splints varies based on each individual patient and their specific activity needs. Physical therapists will tailor a rehabilitation plan based these needs, while also working to address lower extremity dysfunction through the use of orthotics. They can also help to strengthen and stretch the musculature of the leg and foot. As rehabilitation progresses, physical therapists can provide sport specific exercises that will increase strength and agility of the muscles.
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