It’s that time of year again where we start looking at the calendar and deciding on our next running race.

The wintertime in Arizona is when a lot of those happen. Some people don’t use a training schedule although there are some good ones out there. However, sometimes not following one creates for too much too soon. The body isn’t ready for it. One of the most common injuries is shin splints a.k.a. Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS). MTSS is from increasing training too quickly and the muscles not being able to keep up.

The complaint is usually pain on the inside of the tibia or shin pain.

It can be seen in high impact sports such as running or dancing. There are some factors to consider such as flat feet, shoe wear and poor warm-ups or cooldowns. Shin splints can be devastating to an athlete and take time to resolve. Resting from the activity is a must. Try non-impact activities such as biking and swimming to keep the cardiovascular benefit while not doing these activities. Ice the area. Look into getting fitted for shoes or inserts. I’ve found that kinesio taping can be beneficial for decreasing pain and inflammation to the area and giving a feeling of support. Also, finding the right exercises to do are important.

A few exercises you can try on your own would aim to increase strength and stability to the foot and ankle, knee, hip, and core.

In regard to the foot, try towel scrunches. Sit on a chair with your foot on the floor. Then put a towel on the floor – preferably on tile or a sliding surface – and scrunch the towel up with your toes. Another exercise is a side-lying clamshell. This is where you lay on your side with your knees bent. Keep your feet together and lift your knee up. Don’t lift your knee up so high that you are rocking backwards. Another exercise is a single leg stance. Stand on one leg and balance for 30 seconds on the floor. If this is easy, then put a pillow underneath your foot. One more exercise you can do is a sidestep with a resistance band. Pick a space where you can step sideways at least 10-15 steps, put a band around your ankles, keep your feet straight and sidestep back and forth.

If you’re doing all of this and finding the pain is still there, then I would follow up with the doctor at this time.

Looking at coming in for physical therapy may also be beneficial. We would do manual techniques with you and create a program for you to do. We can also try modalities at this time. In regard to running, finding the right training program is important because it tells you what days to do what. However, the downfall of some of them is they don’t tell you what exercises to do. One of the programs I’ve used in the past is from Hal Higdon. He has a lot of different ones on his site and I usually refer to that. I believe he even has some exercises that are beneficial to do while you’re training.

Shin splints can be a persistent pain for athletes doing high impact sports due to the repetitiveness of it. There are ways to possibly prevent it by using the right training programs. Also, getting fitted for shoes or just changing shoes more often can be beneficial. Trying exercises to help with strength and stability or trying modalities such as ice or kinesio taping can make a big difference. It’s best not to push through it.

If pain persists, come into a Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy near you to get you back to where you want to be.


The ASTYM System

We are pleased to announce that Foothills Sports Medicine has several ASTYM certified physical therapists throughout the Phoenix Metropolitan area.  The ASTYM system has been used in clinical settings by certified health professionals since 1996. But many of you may not know what ASTYM is really all about and how it can help you with chronic and acute injuries.

What is ASTYM?

ASTYM is a soft tissue mobilization technique that is designed to effectively treat scarring, fibrosis, and degeneration that can occur in soft tissues. This technique uses ergonomically designed instruments and can be very effective on both new injuries as well as chronic, nagging conditions. The ASTYM instruments are used along the surface of the skin to identify abnormal soft tissue areas and begin the body’s healing process. This healing response or inflammatory process results in the resorption and remodeling of scar tissue and/or abnormal tissue and helps to regenerate degenerative tendons.

ASTYM has been proven to be effective with a number of common orthopedic injuries including IT band syndrome, hip bursitis, shin splints, patellofemoral syndrome, medial and lateral epicondylitis (golfer’s and tennis elbow).

ASTYM has many advantages over conservative PT treatments. ASTYM often allows patients to remain active or continue to work while undergoing treatment. It also has an 88% success rate with patients, achieving improved function and decreased pain, even if the condition is chronic or previous treatment was not successful. It can reduce the need for surgical intervention and achieve maximum results with minimal treatments. Finally this technique has been supported by an extensive outcomes database, clinical experience, and most importantly, by scientific research.

The ASTYM technique may be mildly uncomfortable with some patients. ASTYM is applied to not only the affected or painful areas but to the areas above and below the injury that may be contributing to your condition. During the treatment, you may feel areas of “roughness”, which are the problem areas that will be addressed. As these areas become less rough or smooth over, the pain begins to decrease and improved function also occurs. It is not unusual to have some mild bruising or tenderness over the abnormal or “rough” areas; this is the first indication that the new healing response has started. A comprehensive stretching and strengthening program will also be introduced to help guide the healing process, rebuild healthy tissue, and ultimately, get you back to your desired activities without any pain or limitation.

In my first year of using ASTYM, I have had great personal success with my patients having chronic tendon injuries, plantar fasciitis, and other painful conditions. This technique is used to complement our manual and hands-on techniques, not replace them.

We have several clinics offering ASTYM treatment: Ahwatukee, South Chandler, South Gilbert, Old Town Scottsdale, Surprise, Arrowhead, Litchfield Park. Please click on a location near you to schedule a Rapid Recovery FREE assesment to see if ASTYM is right for you.