Physical Therapy for Shin Splints

North Boulder Physical Therapy, Boulder, Colorado

While you may have had shin splints at some point, you might not know that physical therapy can offer relief from this pain located in the front lower leg. At both of our North Boulder Physical Therapy offices, we see a number of patients who are suffering from shin splints.

What Causes Shin Splints?

The largest bone of your lower leg (tibia) is enveloped by a sheath of connective tissue known as the periostium. Overuse while running, jumping or playing sports on a hard surface can cause inflammation of the periostium and even cause small tears at the point where muscles attach to it. This excessive activity in conjunction with inadequate time to recover is a surefire way to cause shin splints.

If you have a training regimen, an extreme deviation from your routine can also lead to shin splints. If you suddenly decide to double your speed or push your distance training too far, you can cause muscle imbalances in strength and flexibility. Along with not enough shock absorption or toe running, going too hard in your workout can leave you with painful shin splints that may require physical therapy.

Need Physical Therapy for Shin Splints?

Contact North Boulder Physical Therapy Today.

Symptoms & Treatment of Shin Splints

Shin splints occur along the lower half of the tibia. A stress reaction and very few tears will only cause mild pain. The injury can then progress into an actual stress fracture with more severe pain and many tears in the muscle to periostium connection points.

As such, the first symptom of shin splints is pain. It might surface during the early stages of a training run and then disappear later. It can then return the following morning after exercise. If you’re experiencing this type of pain, it’s time for ice, anti-inflammatory medications (OTC), lower leg stretching and rest. It’s also best for healing to drastically reduce running or playing sports for up to two weeks.

Before returning to activity and training, North Boulder Physical Therapy recommends a full breakdown and even improvements to your routine, including:

  • Pre and post stretching
  • Running surfaces
  • Using proper, quality shoes
  • Reducing distance/intensity
  • Taking days off from running
  • Limiting hills and jumping

Most importantly, when you resume running – never run through the pain! It will likely lead to reinjury.

Physical Therapy for Shin Splints

For a severe or persistent injury, physical therapy may be needed and our highly-trained staff here at North Boulder Physical Therapy is here to help.

Our personalized treatment program will include a biomechanical analysis of your running, possibly an ultrasound. Hands-on techniques we use consist of ice massage, soft tissue massage and electrical stimulation. We will then educate you on programs that are pain free but correct muscle imbalances for added strength and flexibility. You may also be given a prescription for an orthotic shoe to prevent any further issues. Together, these treatments will ensure you get back on track.