The fight against leg pain doesn’t end once you finish your appointment with your Highett physiotherapist.
If you’re tired of putting up with leg pains like shin splints, you’ll not only need to visit your physio, but also invest in the exercises we prescribe.
Physical therapy at your physiotherapist’s clinic is just one half of the equation – for sustained results and long-lasting results relief from leg pain, you’ll also need to do some work at home.
Home exercises and stretches play a huge role in your recovery from pain. It speeds up your recovery, minimising the amount of time you need to spend contending with pain.
A quick recap of shin splints
While there are many possible types of leg pain, without a doubt the most common are overuse injuries along your shinbone.
Colloquially referred to as “shin splints”, overuse of your legs can cause wear and tear in your leg muscles.
Your shins are especially vulnerable, since they absorb most of the impact when you walk, run, and participate in many types of sports.
With excessive usage, this can lead to injuries and problems including:
- Microtears in leg muscles
- Microfractures in leg bones
- Vascular pain
- Referred pain from lower back problems
- Leg pain
A physiotherapist that specialises in knee and leg treatments gives you the tools needed to treat leg pain. And that includes exercises and routines you can do from the comfort of your own home to facilitate an effective recovery.
Fight off leg pain: home shin splint treatments
Your lower legs are a complex network of muscles.
Your physiotherapist focuses on exercising calf muscles including:
- Tibialis posterior and anterior
- Soleus muscles
If you suffer from shin splints, you can self-treat by performing…
- Place one leg in front of the other and keep lower your body until both of your knees are at approximately a 90-degree angle
- Ensure your forward knee doesn’t push out too far
- Keep your shoulders back and head facing forward and avoid twisting
- Alternate legs, performing as many repetitions as your physio recommends
Lunges target several muscle groups in your legs simultaneously, including your thighs, glutes, hamstrings and calves.
This kind of “all-purpose” leg exercise is a great starting point with when it comes to rebuilding strength in your shins.
Your physiotherapist might even prescribe variations to focus on specific muscle groups, as well as tools like dumbbells to increase resistance and further build strength.
Seated shin stretches
- Sit on your shins, with the top of your feet flat on the ground
- Bring your ankles and calves together and gently start leaning back, using your arms to support you
- Hold for min 30 seconds, before gently leaning back forward. Repeat as recommended
Feeling pain towards the front of your shin? Chances are it’s your anterior tibialis muscle causing you trouble.
Its job is to flex the foot upwards, as well as control it as it returns to the ground.
And that’s exactly what seated shin stretches target.
Seated shin stretches build strength in this part of your shins. This increases their resistance to the daily stresses that come with walking, running and work, minimising the chances of a return to pain.
Seated shin stretches aren’t the only routines that work out your anterior tibialis muscle either.
There are standing and kneeling variations of this exercise which your physio might prescribe depending on your level of pain and what’s comfortable.
One of which is…
The “toe drag” stretch
- Stand up straight, bending both knees slightly
- Place one foot on the ground with the top of your toes touching the ground, just behind the heel of the other foot
- Keeping the second foot flat on the ground, gently push the first first forward until you feel a good stretch
- Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat with the other foot
Otherwise known as the standing shin stretch, the toe drag also focuses on the muscle at the front of your shins.
If you have a history of shin splints, your physio might also recommend adding this exercise to your warm-up routine to stop pain from recurring.
- Stand on a flat surface with both feet facing forward
- Lift your heels as high as you can and gently bring them down – essentially, stand on your toes
- Perform as many raises as your physiotherapist recommends
- Get adventurous – add weights, bend your knees or train your legs individually
It might sound simple – stand on your toes – but you’d be surprised how much this works out your calves!
Calf raises take away the support of your feet. As a result, your calf muscles have to work a lot harder to keep you standing upright.
In particular, calf raises push your gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, the two big, meaty muscles that sit at the back of your shins.
On top of building strength in your calves, your Highett physiotherapist might also encourage you to do these exercises if you’re experiencing pain in your Achilles tendon (which connects your calf muscles to your heel).
Why home routines are so important in shin splint treatment
These are just some of the exercises and routines your physiotherapist may prescribe for shin splints.
There are many other exercises, as well as variations which target different parts of your lower legs.
Depending on your pain, your Highett physiotherapist will prescribe different routines for you to implement at home.
Why is it important that you listen to your physio and make these a part of your daily routine?
It’s simple: it speeds up your recovery and gets you out of pain sooner.
The truth of the matter is that when it comes to your body, you either use it or you lose it.
Bursts of intense exercise and stretching you’ll perform when you’re with your physiotherapist are great for this.
However, it also needs low-intensity exercise to inbetween to ensure that your muscles continue to recover, strengthen and heal from pain.
Need a Highett physio?
For shin splint treatments and more, call Physio AUS!
Using our unique system, we go deeper than just identifying the cause of your pain. We also focus on unique ways of minimising pain as well as sustaining results.
The key ingredient to sustaining your results? Home exercises and stretches. We’ll tell you what you need to do to sustain your results, and how long you’ll need to do it.
Physio AUS has two clinics in Melbourne’s Bayside:
- Highett: 61 Brighton Road, in the Medical One building