Shin splints are also known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). The pain along the inner aspect of your shin bone is referred to as a shin splint. This condition is common in athletes and those who participate in high-intensity workouts, and in sports like basketball, tennis, soccer, and racquetball.
A runner who develops this condition often agrees to a recent change in his or her training such as sudden increase in the speed of running, increase in mileage, or a change in the running surface. People who are resuming running after a long time are more prone to develop shin splints, especially if they are running downhill.
Is physical therapy needed?
Yes, physical therapy is really helpful for the treatment of shin splints. It actually helps in several ways. Physical therapy is designed to strengthen your weak muscles and also to reduce the pain and inflammation in your legs. The length of the physical therapy that one needs will vary and will be decided by your physical therapist according to your body and severity of the injury. At most, you may have to separate at least four to six weeks for your physical therapy for a full recovery and rehabilitation.
How does physical therapy help shin splints?
A physical therapist identifies the risk factors that may have caused a shin splint in you and will teach you how to address each and every risk factor. Physical therapy not only helps to strengthen your lower body, but it also helps in reducing the pain you are experiencing as a result of shin splints.
To reduce the pain, your physical therapist may advise you to:
- Give your body an adequate amount of rest. You should reduce your high-intensity workouts and shift into low-intensity ones until the pain completely resolves.
- Apply ice to the painful area of the leg for about 5 to 10 minutes and repeat this every 3 to 4 hours. Continue to ice the tender area until the pain is completely gone.
- Do some stretching exercises to stretch your muscles around the legs.
- Keep your affected leg bandaged and limit the movement of the muscles in the area.
Strengthen your lower body
If your feet, ankles, calf muscles, and hips are all weak, then all of the stress will be handled by your shin bone. This increased pressure causes an inflammation of the surrounding muscles. Therefore, if you can strengthen your lower body, then the weight will be evenly distributed, thus, reducing the stress applied to your shin bone. Lower body strengthening exercises are very important to prevent future shin splints.
Heel drop, toe curls, and monster walks are a few lower body strengthening exercises that you can try while at home.
- Heel drop – Stand on your toes at the edge of a step. Next, lift your left foot off the ground and transmit your entire body weight onto your right leg. Now, slowly press your heel towards the floor. Repeat the same exercise with your right leg while lifting the left foot off the ground. You will feel a difference in your legs while you do this exercise.
- Toe curls – Stand on the edge of a small towel, and with your toes, start to grab the towel and slowly pull it towards you. Do this exercise with one foot at a time.
- Monster walks – While standing with your feet shoulder width apart, wear a resistance band around the thighs. Keep your right leg outward to the right and forward. Then take your left leg to the left outward and forward. In the same manner, return to your original position. Repeat from the start.