posterior shin splints

Coping with Posterior Shin Splints

While you may think of splints as devices used to immobilize injured body parts, it’s a term that has another connotation in the medical world, one with which many runners are all too familiar. Shin splints is a term used to describe pain in the lower leg; it refers to the inflammation of one of the muscles that runs along the tibia or shin bone, the tibialis posterior. The tibialis posterior runs along the inside rear of the tibia bone. Posterior shin splints are the most common cause of painful shin bones.

The Mechanics Behind The Pain

Your tibialis posterior muscle controls a portion of the foot’s arch when it is doing weight-bearing exercise. It helps to produce the motion that allows your foot to lift off the ground when you are running or walking, necessary to keeping the foot and ankle stable; this is called supination. The tibialis posterior muscle also helps to apply the brakes to the flattening of the arch when you are in motion.

tibialis posterior

What Causes Shin Splints?

Posterior shin splints can be result from various causes, including:

  • Flat feet – Flat feet can put too much stress on the tibialis posterior muscle and tendon by causing the muscle to be lengthened. If the foot’s core muscles aren’t strengthened, the foot may be subject to over-pronate and there may be an inward knee collapse, which aggravates shin splints.
  • Overuse or overtraining – If you increase your mileage on the roads, you are landing on your foot more often, which increases the force on your arches. If you run faster, you increase the force with which you strike the ground, which can also have a negative impact on your tibialis posterior muscle.
  • Tight calf muscles – If your calves are tight, your ankle’s range of motion becomes limited, causing pronation that causes your tibialis posterior to work too hard.
  • Weak hip and core muscles –
    These muscles help control the leg’s inward rotation, and if the pronation becomes more extreme, it can aggravate your tibialis posterior muscle.
  • Worn out footwear – Walking or running shoes help support the feet and ankles, so if a shoe begins to break down, the foot may pronate more and require the tibialis posterior to work harder, which can lead to inflammation.

Symptoms of Posterior Shin Splints

Are you wondering if your shin pain is due to shin splints? If so, look for these potential symptoms:

  • Dull, aching pain in the inside-rear front of the lower leg;
  • Shin pain along the side of the tibia bone or within associated muscles; or
  • An area that is tender to the touch.

However, you should talk to a registered physiotherapist or a physician before proceeding with specific treatment options. A physiotherapist will base the treatment on the severity of the injury.

With stage one shin splints, your pain disappears during warm up exercise, so you may be allowed to continue exercising unless the injury worsens. A stage two injury means the pain may reappear at the end of a workout, so your physiotherapist may recommend modified workouts while you are treated.

If shin pain worsens during a workout, this means that it’s time to suspend activity before the tibia suffers stress fractures. This is a stage three injury. If you have pain and discomfort all the time, your injury has progressed to stage four and it’s time to stop all activity. You may need crutches or an air cast to take pressure off the area while it heals.

It’s important to address shin splints even though the recovery isn’t quick; it usually takes at least two months. However, depending on the severity of the injury, you may be able to continue with modified exercise.

posterior shin splints

Diagnosis and Treatment

As with most injuries, it’s useful to start with the RICE method of treatment: rest, ice, compression and elevation. Apply ice every two to four hours for 20 to 30 minutes. Avoid anti-inflammatory drugs for the first 48 to 72 hours. See your physiotherapist as soon as possible to obtain a diagnosis so that you can begin to rehabilitate your injury. Initially, your physiotherapist may do some supportive taping to help support the injured soft tissue and offer your tibia some stress reduction.

Next, your physiotherapist will work with you to help you regain your full range of motion without pain. This often involves remoulding scar tissue so it doesn’t tear easily in the future by lengthening and orienting it through stretching, massage and targeted exercises. Your physiotherapist will also evaluate your gait to determine what corrections need to be made so that you can prevent a recurrence of your shin splints. You may need to wear corrective orthotics to give your foot some assistance.

Restoring strength to your muscles is also critical, so your physiotherapist will help you create a realistic exercise plan that will restore weakened calf, shin, quadriceps, gluteal and other lower limb muscles to their appropriate strength. Once you’ve reached this point, it’s time to return to your usual activities – but you’ll want to work with your physiotherapist to create a workable re-entry plan.

So, if you’re feeling pain in the area near your tibia, don’t hesitate to have it diagnosed. As they say, shin up – or do I mean chin up?!

pulled butt muscle

Pulled Butt Muscle | Gluteal Pain

The phrase “Pain in the Butt” is a slang reference to someone who is annoying, but it derives from a real medical problem: a pulled or torn muscle in the buttocks that can, indeed, be painful.

What Causes Pain in the Gluteal Muscles?

One of the major causes of buttocks pain is a strain – a tear to one of the gluteal muscles. This type of injury is often called a pulled butt muscle. A strain happens when the load placed on the muscle exceeds its normal boundaries. It can result when there is too much force or repetitive force during the muscle’s contraction. They are most likely to occur during exercise, especially sports that involve running or jumping.

A strain, or tear, to a gluteal muscle, may result in sudden pain after a fall or an exercise session. Chronic wear and tear can also lead to a strain in the glutes. Your muscles may experience fatigue if you aren’t properly conditioned to handle a specific exercise or motion or a strain may result if you don’t warm up adequately before exercise. In addition, poor technique can lead to gluteus strains.

The Gluteus Muscles Explained

Your buttocks are medically referred to as your gluteus and each buttock comprises three separate muscles: gluteus maximums, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus – along with fat. These muscles run diagonally from the pelvic rim toward the femur, or thigh bone. They exist in layers with the gluteus minimus being the smallest and deepest; the gluteus medius in the middle and the gluteus maximus the most superficial. The three muscles work together to stabilize the pelvis and allow for hip motion by contracting or shortening.

gluteus muscle anatomy
  • The gluteus maximus is one of the body’s strongest muscles and is responsible for a leg extending backward. In one’s gait, it is crucial to pushing off and it is the muscle that allows you to straighten your hips when rising from a chair or ascending a flight of stairs.
  • The gluteus medius muscle is responsible for the sideways movement of the leg (abduction) and in keeping your hips level when you move from side to side. It also helps steady your thigh bone when you run, jump or walk.
  • The gluteus minimus muscle assists in sideways motion and internal rotation of the leg and helps the gluteus medius in stabilizing the hip and pelvis when one leg is lifted.

Symptoms of Buttock Pain

If the injury results from trauma, you may feel a sharp, sudden pain when it occurs. However, it will be most noticeable when you undertake activities that rely on the use of the affected gluteal muscle. Depending on the severity of the tear, your symptoms may include:

  • A deep ache in your hip or buttock;
  • Severe pain in the buttock;
  • Difficulty climbing stairs;
  • Unstable feeling in hips;
  • Tingling and numbness in your buttock;
  • Swelling or bruising in the hip and buttock area; and/or
  • Sharp pain when squeezing your buttocks together.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you experience gluteal pain and can pinpoint the time of an injury, be cautious for the first 48 to 72 hours. Rest is important. You may also want to ice the affected area using a bag of frozen peas or crushed ice wrapped in a damp towel. Apply the ice for 15 to 20 minutes each hour or two.

Until you receive treatment, it is important to proceed cautiously so the injury doesn’t worsen; avoid the temptation to stretch and exercise through the pain. This means avoiding certain motions and activities, such as sitting cross-legged or with your thigh crossed over; sitting in a deep chair; climbing stairs; and, of course, running or cycling.

You will also want to contact a licensed physiotherapist to assess your injury. A physiotherapist will stress and stretch your soft tissues, exploring the muscle strength, lengths, range of motion, flexibility and stability to determine the extent of the strain. They may ask for a diagnostic ultrasound, since this test shows soft tissues and tendons.

Your physiotherapist will start rehabilitation with movements involving the specific muscle before moving on to resisted movements, followed by activities that involve the muscle, such as climbing stairs. Then, you can transition to running and jumping activities. Exercises will focus on strength and range of motion.

It is important to treat a gluteal strain or pulled butt muscle, because if it doesn’t heal properly, it can recur and become a chronic problem. Generally, for a moderate tear, you can expect healing to take place within six to eight weeks. If the strain is a recurring one, it will take longer.

Take heart! With determination and treatment, you will no longer be the butt of jokes about your gluteal strain.

core stability important

Why Is Core Stability So Important?

These days, in the world of exercise, there’s lots of talk about your core and core stability. But exactly what is your core and why is stability so important?

Think of the core as the power centre of your body. It’s comprised of your abdominal (stomach) muscles and back muscles, including the muscles along the spine, as well as your hips and pelvis muscles. Almost any motion you make is generated from your core, and if it is weak – i.e., unstable – your other muscles need to pitch in to compensate, making you more vulnerable to injury.

The Benefits of Core Stability & Strength

By strengthening your core, you improve the power of every move you make, including any motion involving your arms or legs. A strong core also gives you stability and improves your balance, allowing you to more easily prevent falls or injuries during your activities – both in sports and your daily routine. It also helps prevent debilitating back pain or help to relieve it. In fact, core stability underpins almost any activity you undertake, including:

  • Everyday activities. Standing still, bending to tie your shoes or looking over your shoulder aren’t actions you immediately associate with your core, until it becomes painful to do them. The basic activities that make up daily life, such as sitting, bathing or dressing, all involve your core.
  • On-the-job tasks. Functioning well on the job requires good core strength, whether you’re sitting at a computer all day or working at a more obviously physical job that involves lifting, reaching and twisting. Good core strength makes it possible to do these tasks pain free.
  • Household chores. Everything from vacuuming to hammering requires movements such as bending, twisting and reaching – all motions that involve your core.
  • Sports. A strong core gives you the power to undertake sports such as tennis, swimming, cycling and running; it also gives you the power and flexibility to enjoy “bed sport” or sexual activities.

If your core is weak, tight or unbalanced, it makes these activities much more challenging.

Signs of a Weak Core

If you’re wondering whether your core might need some attention, here are six indications that a course of strengthening exercises might be wise:

  • Poor posture. If you find it challenging to stand up straight or slump in your chair, your core might be too weak to keep you upright.
  • Bad balance. The muscles in your core are key to balance, so if you find yourself tipping or struggling to stay upright, it’s time for improvement.
  • Lower back pain. If you have aches or pains in your back after sitting or standing for a while, it may point to a weak core.
  • Shortness of breath. Your outer core muscles help to support your diaphragm, which controls your breathing. A weak core can cause you to slouch and make breathing tougher.
  • Lack of endurance while standing. If you feel pain in your appendages or lower back after being on your feet for a while, it may point to the need for a stronger core to support you.
  • Body weakness. Given that the core is the heart of your muscular system, if you feel weak all over your body, it may mean your core isn’t strong enough.

Building Up Your Core

Now that you understand how important your core is to overall health, it’s time to consider strengthening it. There are excellent benefits to be obtained from improving core strength:

  • Injury prevention
  • Pain reduction
  • Managing and reducing pain
  • Improved balance and stability
  • Ease in undertaking daily tasks.

Yoga is one of the best exercises you can do to improve overall core strength, as is Pilates; both regimens can be adjusted to suit your level of physical fitness and strength.

There are also some exercises that you can do at home to get started, Including:

  • Seated side bends require you to sit in a chair with your feet flat. Put one hand behind your head and reach the other toward the floor. Bend forward to touch the floor, tightening your oblique (side) muscles. Repeat on the other side.
  • Leg lifts require lying flat on the floor with your legs and feet relaxed. Lift one leg off the floor and contract your abdominal muscles, holding the lift for three counts. Repeat with the other leg.

These exercises will start you on the path to core stability. However, it is worth visiting a physiotherapist to obtain an evaluation of your core strength, get a program tailored to your level of fitness and learn to do exercises using proper form.

physiotherapy in sports

Why Physiotherapy is Important in Sports

As 2021 gets underway, thousands of us have undoubtedly made New Year’s resolutions to up their exercise quotient and get fitter. Unfortunately, in our eagerness to do so, we may overexert themselves and cause injuries. Luckily, there are physiotherapists to help put us back together again, unlike poor Humpty Dumpty in the famous nursery rhyme.

Physiotherapists are experts at evaluating, restoring and maintaining physical function and mobility. They also can assist individuals in achieving optimal performance. Since sports are all about motion and performance, sports physiotherapists are the ideal resource for athletes to draw upon, whether they are injured or simply seeking to improve their performance.

Think about the last time you watched your favourite sports team play. Undoubtedly, at some point, play was stopped because a player had sustained a possible injury. Out onto the field of play comes the trainer, who is often a trained physiotherapist, to evaluate the injury and help determine whether the player can continue the game without doing irreparable damage.

Why is Sports Physiotherapy Essential for Athletes?

The physiotherapist’s goal is to speed up healing and to help the athlete return to action as quickly as possible with the proper combination of therapy and exercises.

Of course, it’s not only professional athletes who can benefit from sports physiotherapists. We amateurs get injured regularly and are eager to find our way back into action and prevent the injury from recurring. Physiotherapists not only consider our injuries; they look at the underlying causes so that their treatments benefit the entire body.

Here are some of the ways sports physiotherapy can assist athlete, whether professional or amateur:

    • Improving joint and muscle flexibility. Flexibility is a key to optimal performance. Physiotherapists can provide exercises that will improve flexibility to help you meet your sports goals, whether you’re working toward a tournament or simply trying to improve your fitness.
    • Enhancing strength. Sports physiotherapy improves your ability to deal with physical stress, something that is an integral part of many high-contact sports. The stronger your body, the less susceptible it is to injury.
    • Preventing injury. Participants in different sports are susceptible to different injuries. A sports physiotherapist can suggest an exercise regimen designed to strengthen your body accordingly. They will also advise you about proper warmups and sensibly increasing your physical workload.
    • Assisting with relaxation. After intense exercise, it may be hard for you to relax and wind down. A physiotherapist can assist you with stretching and healing, and the clinic may also offer massage therapy to help your sore muscles. Soon, you’ll have the energy to carry on.
    • Rehabilitating injury. Everyone gets injured once in a while, no matter how careful they are. Sports phyisotherapists evaluate your injury and determine a course of treatment (exercises, acupuncture, etc.) that will help you heal as quickly as possible and strengthen the appropriate areas to help prevent the injury from recurring.
    • Managing pain. Physiotherapists can offer you a number of exercises and techniques designed to reduce pain and discomfort. They also help athletes handle chronic conditions that can interfere with workouts.

What to Expect at a Physiotherapy Session

If you’ve never been to see a physiotherapist, there is a standard approach to your injury or concern that you can expect.

Prior to suggesting any treatment, your physiotherapist will want to assess your condition. You’ll need to provide information about your medical history, your lifestyle, your medications and the sports in which you participate. If you have X-rays or other test information, they will want to see it. This is an opportunity for you to ask questions, too.

Once the physiotherapist has the necessary information, they will assess your injury. The assessment may include evaluation of your movement, your posture and your ligament stability.

Next, the physiotherapist will design a treatment plan to help you heal faster, achieve your performance goals or prevent injury. They will run through the exercises with you to ensure you know how to do them correctly.

You’ll be sent home to follow their plan, with regular visits to allow them to monitor your progress. You should be pleased at the progress you see if your follow the plan.

Remember, participation in sports comes with an inherent risk, so why not do all you can to minimize it while maximizing your potential?