Shin splints are an incredibly common injury among athletes and weekend warriors, and the statistics suggest that they account for more than 10 percent of all injuries in the athletic population. Medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints describe an overuse injury in your leg that can affect the muscle and bone in the area.
Treating Shin Splints With Physical Therapy
So while we know that overuse is the main culprit behind shin splint onset, there are also some underlying factors that can make you more prone to overstressing the shin area. Some of those factors that can be treated with physical therapy include:
- Hip Weakness – Weakness in the hip joint or muscles in the lower body can end up putting additional stress on your shin area. Correcting this related muscle weakness through PT exercises can reduce the amount of stress on the tibia.
- Flexibility Problems – Limited flexibility in the calf area can also put extra strain on the shin. Your physical therapist can use some range of motion and flexibility exercises to increase your calf flexibility to help stabilize and support the tibia.
- Poor Shoe Choice – Your physical therapist can explain how your shoe choice can affect how stress is channeled through your foot, and they can help you find an athletic shoe that is more supportive or contoured to your foot so that stress isn’t overly channeled to your shin area.
- Gait Style – We can also use biomechanical feedback machines to analyze your gait and running style to see if we can make some small adjustments to tweak how stress is displaced in your legs when you move.
- Strength Training – By carefully working to strengthen your hips, hamstrings, glutes and calf muscles, we can ensure that our bodies are better prepared to handle stress, meaning tissue damage won’t occur as easily.
- Activity Education – Finally, our team of physical therapists can explain how you can safely increase your exercise levels or prepare for the upcoming sports season without putting your shin health at risk. For example, we can talk about safe preparation schedules or how running on hard surfaces like a track can be more strenuous on your tibias than running on a softer surface like grass. We’ll help educate you on the best ways to increase your activity levels.
For more information about preventing and treating shin splints, or for help recovering after an injury, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today at (612) 339-2041.
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