Warm weather is here. Sort of. And with the rise in temperatures comes a rise in the number of people afflicted with running fever. Resultantly, there’ll be a rise in people with shin splints. Happens every spring.
Pain along the front or inside edge of the shinbone (tibia) is commonly referred to as shin splints. Shin splints on the front of the tibia are called anterior shin splints. Posterior shin splints cause pain along the inside edge of the lower leg.
Anterior shin splints tend to affect people who take up a new activity, such as jogging, sprinting, or playing sports that require quick starts and stops. The unfamiliar forces place a heavy strain on the anterior tibialis muscle, causing it to become irritated and inflamed.
Posterior shin splints are generally caused by imbalances in the leg and foot. Muscle imbalances from tight calf muscles can cause this condition. Imbalances in foot alignment, such as having flat arches (called pronation), can also cause posterior shin splints.
Shin splints often produce a dull, aching pain felt where the involved tibialis muscle attaches to the tibia. Redness and swelling can also occur in this area. Tenderness is felt where the muscle attaches to the bone. Anterior shin splints are usually felt on the front of the tibia, especially when using the anterior tibialis muscle to bend your foot upward. Posterior shin splints produce symptoms along the inside edge of the lower leg.
Got shin splints? Don’t let this condition keep you from working out! Physical therapy treatments are often effective at addressing and eliminating this condition. Deep tissue massage is commonly done along the junction where the sore tibialis muscle meets the tibia. Stretching and specific exercise is important.
Physical therapists also evaluate your posture and alignment to see if you have problems with pronation (arch flattening). If so a small heel wedge or even an orthotic placed in your shoe can help. Additionally, taping techniques and cold laser, available at Alpine Physical Therapy, are effective treatments to ease pain and get you back to the activities you enjoy.
For a more detailed explanation of shin splints, visit our clinic website, which is rich in patient resources, by clicking here.
Brent Dodge is the founding owner of Alpine Physical Therapy and is a board certified orthopedic specialist. He holds additional certifications in Functional Dry Needling, Manual Physical Therapy, and Strength and Conditioning.
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