Our bodies were designed to transport us quickly. But then why is it that so many people have pain when running? Often, the hips are the culprit, yet other parts of the body take the blame.
Freshman, Hannah, started training for cross country and couldn’t shake the pain she experienced in her shins. She incorporated stretches that were “proven” to help as well as some core work, but she continued having pain. Her parents took her to see Siiri Berg, PT, OCS to get to the bottom of it.
“Hannah had medial tibial stress syndrome, also known as shin splints,” said Berg.
This condition often occurs when athletes ramp up their training, which puts stress on the muscles and tendons in the lower leg. Characterized by pain felt along the posterior medial border of the lower tibia, the medial shin will be tender to the touch over an extended area.
For Hannah, the cause of her pain stemmed from weak hips. “When the hips are weak, everything down the line is affected,” said Berg. “This is a common problem I see among my runner clients.”
Improper movement patterns from the hips down induce excessive pronation of the foot, causing the ankle and foot to collapse inward. This places added stress on the muscles of the tibia.
“Thankfully, shin splints are easy to fix,” said Berg. “I have three hip-strengthening exercises that aren’t very exciting, but get the job done quickly.”
Siiri began Hannah on an exercise program to build strength in the hips and legs. By progressively adding weight as her strength increased, Hannah was able to resume running without pain in weeks.
Siiri recommends not waiting to treat shin splint pain. “By addressing this early on, we can quickly resolve the issue before a more serious injury occurs.”
The goal of physical therapy is to help patients do the things they love with minimal to no pain. Physical therapists are movement experts trained to identify imbalances and treat them quickly. If you or someone you know is experiencing pain when running, schedule an appointment to be seen by a physical therapist.