Shin splints is a common injury in individuals who participate in running sports. Individuals with shin splints commonly experience pain either on the inside or the front of the shin bone. Shin splints is caused by excessive stress placed on the muscles that attach to the shin bone, usually from over-training or from poor foot or leg biomechanics (abnormal movement patterns). Some common causes of shin splints due to poor biomechanics include, high arched or flat feet, increasing a training program too quickly, improper footwear and leg muscle imbalances.
Physiotherapy Treatment for Shin Splints
Physiotherapy can be effective in the management of shin splints. If shin splints is left untreated and an individual continues to over-train, they can risk developing a stress fracture. A Physiotherapist will take a detailed history and complete a comprehensive assessment, to determine the root cause of your shin splints. If your physiotherapist feels that you may have a stress fracture, they will refer you to your physician for a scan (usually an x-ray or bone scan), to rule it out. With this information, the physiotherapist will develop an individualized treatment plan to treat your shin splints. Based on the root cause of your shin splints, and your symptoms, your individualized treatment plan may include:
- Manual therapy techniques such as soft tissue release, mobilization or manipulation
- An individualized exercise program including muscle strengthening and stretching. As you heal, the physiotherapist will progress your exercises to make them more functional to help prepare you to return to your sport or activity that caused the injury.
- Education on activity modification while you recover, proper training, appropriate footwear, and how to prevent re-occurrence of the injury.
- Orthotics may be recommended
- Modalities such as acupuncture, TENS, ultrasound, heat or ice
Symptoms of Shin Splints Injury
Individuals with shin splints often experience dull achy pain in the front of their leg, which can become sharp during activity. Often the affected area is tender to the touch as well.
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