The Top 3 Exercises For Shin Splints

With running season in full gear and the mileage ramping up shin splints are on the rise.  So, we are going to go over the top three exercises for shin splints.

Shin splints are sort of a garbage can term in terms of if there is any pain on the front of the shin, people label it shin splints.  And a lot of time, while shin splints may be present, they are not the only thing they are a second or third issue, the others just haven’t shown their heads yet.

 Shin splints are often warning sign that there’s a lot of other things going on.

A quick test to see if you have shin splints or the beginning of shin splints is to run your finger up and down your shin.   If it does not feel good, you might get some bumps, then you could have shin splints or the beginning of shin splints.

If you have pain in the back of your leg or pain in your knee, your ankle pain or in your foot, that is not shin splints.  That is something else.

Shin splints is a muscle imbalance.  And by a muscle imbalance I mean one muscle is stronger than the other and there could be knots.  In the case of shin splints the gastric, the muscle in the back could be stronger then the muscle in the front or there could be weakness all the way up to the core that can cause shin splints.

Shin splints causes can go all the way up the leg and into the abdominals.  If you’re being treated for shin splints right now and they are only working on your shin, the problem is not being fixed and they will come back.  They’re going to come back.  99 percent of the time I will promise you they are going to come back because the entire leg needs to be addressed.

When we’re addressing shin splints what where needs to be looked at is why are you getting shin splints.  Your running pattern needs to be looked at, meaning is your heel or toes striking the ground.  Then we need to worry about the actual leg. Is there a hip issue?  Is there a knee issue or a back issue?

As we go through these exercises, realize that they all just don’t focus on the shin because we need to address all the areas that can cause shin splints.

The first exercise that you can do for shin splints is to stretch the front of your shin.  And these are shown in the video below, so you can watch the video to see how to properly perform the exercises.

You’re going to do this without your shoe on.  You are going to start and curl your toes under and press the front of your foot into the ground.  If you need to get a deeper stretch, then bend the knee on the opposite side.

You are going to feel this stretch in the front of the foot, in the toes and up into the shin.  You want to stop the stretch when you feel the stretch, if you feel it in the toes then that is where you hold the stretch.  Do not push through the pain to feel the stretch in the front of the shin.  Stop the stretch when you feel it.

Eventually you will feel the stretch in the front of the shin, the more you stretch.  But it may not be for awhile so just stop when you feel the stretch.  It should never be painful.  It should only be a nice gentle stretch.  You want to hold the stretch for 30 seconds and do 6 sets.  You want to do it on both sides, regardless of if you only feel the pain one shin.

The second thing I’m going to show you is for strengthening the front of the leg, the actual shin, so you might not be able to do this right away especially if your shin splints are really painful.

You can do it standing or sitting.  Keep your heel on the ground and tap your toe.  You’re going to do these three times for one minute and it’s going to burn.  Even if you don’t have shin pain, most often doing this for a minute will cause a burn.  But if becomes painful then you should stop.  Burning is ok, pain is not.

The final exercise we’re going to do for shin splints has nothing to do with the shin.  It’s more about how your foot hits the ground.   A lot of times with shin splints (and this is not all the time) if you were to record yourself while you’re running you’re going to get a lot of slapping.  You will hear loud slapping noises as the front of the foot hits the ground.

This slap is caused by several things.  But it can cause shin splints because the shin can’t absorb the forces and therefore it causes pain.  Which is why you can’t just treat the shin when working on shin splints.

But this slapping is most often caused by a weakness in one of your glut muscles.  Your glut muscles help you to control your foot, in particular your glut medius so the next exercise we are going to do is going to focus on strengthening the glut medius.

This next exercise is done in standing.  You can stand on the ground or on an elevated surface.  You want one leg up and one leg down.  So, if you are on a step, you want one leg off the step and one leg on the step.  The leg that is on the ground, or on the step, is going to stay locked in place.  Do not lock it out straight but you want to make sure that it does not bend and straighten during this exercise.

You’re going to drop your hip and lift it up.  Nice and easy and slowly as far as you can go.   You can have a large range of motion or a small range of motion.  Do not bend and straighten the knee to get a bigger range of motion.

You want to try not to touch the ground or the step in between each repetition.  You’re going to feel the exercise on your standing leg more than you are on the on the leg going up and down.   You want to perform 3 sets of 30 on each leg.

The important thing about shin splints is that you determine the exact cause and the extent of the leg that has been affected.  Finding the exact origin of the pain is going to allow you to treat the cause of the pain and not just put a band aid on the pain.

If you live in Bucks and Montgomery County and want free consultation to discover where your shin splints are coming from, then click here to claim your spot! 

Is heat or ice better?

Does it really matter if you use heat or ice when you have an injury?

Can you cause yourself more problems if you use one versus the other?

Do you just avoid it all together?

A lot of people wind up avoiding using heat or ice all together because they’re afraid they’re going to pick the wrong one.

Just as a quick rule when in doubt ice.

But don’t fear you won’t completely mess things up if you apply heat.  If you like heat more than ice, then you can use heat and not worry about damaging anything.


When using heat, you should never use it for more than 15 minutes and it shouldn’t be directly on your skin.

You should have at least a layer of clothing in between the hot pack and your skin.  And the same can be said with ice you want to make sure there’s a layer of clothing in between the ice and your skin.

Heat is designed to increase the blood flow to the area.

And yes, there are a lot of studies that refute the benefits of both heat and ice.  But as an at home remedy both can work quite effectively.

When you are using heat, it is best to use a hot pack that doesn’t plug in, so it will cool down, if you happen to fall asleep while using the heat, which is common.  Taking a hot shower is a wonderful way to heat sore muscles.

Heat is most often recommended before stretching or foam rolling.  Or if you have a stiff neck, stiff back and want to get rid of that stiff feeling.

When you heat muscles, you will loosen up the muscles.  Meaning the muscles will become longer and relaxed.  You don’t want to immediately exercise after applying heat or you could strain the relaxed muscles.

Stiffness and soreness are great reasons to use heat.  Most of us experience that after a long day or work or waking up in the morning.

However, some people experience stiffness in their back during the work day after sitting for too long.  It is perfectly okay to use heat during the day too for 15 minutes, just make sure that you are not going to do some strenuous exercise immediately after the heat.


If you were in an accident or you are in pain, then you use ice.  If you go home from a long day of work and can barely move or if you know you did something to hurt yourself then you want to put ice on it.

I’m always amazed at how many people come in here post-surgery and don’t ice it every day.  Post-surgery, whether there is pain or not, whether the drugs block the pain or not, you need to ice.  Ice will help decrease the inflammation.

When you put ice on you want to put it on for 15 minutes.  You want to do this a couple times a day, ice works much better than more often you do it.  Take about an hour break in between ice sessions.

Never directly apply the ice on the skin.

It doesn’t have to be a fancy ice pack, but it does matter that you apply it right on the area and then elevate it if possible.  Sit there and relax.

If you have compression with ice – even better.  Compression can be just an ace wrap that presses the ice to the body part.  Compression and elevation and icing is going to give you the best results.

Many people experience pain during the work day, back pain, neck pain, elbow pain and so on.  If you are someone who experience pain at work have an ice pack handy at work.  Put the ice right on the body part that hurts.

You don’t have to see swelling to ice.  Sometime swelling is present, but you can’t see it.  If there is pain, there is inflammation, even if you can’t see it.

Ice beats Advil, Aleve, Flexeril anything they are handing out.  Ice can have a greater effect than any medications that people ingest.

The first line of defense is always ice.

One day of ice is not going to stop the pain.  Make sure that you are icing every day AND if you have the ability do it more than once a day.

If you only can ice once a day wait until the end of the day, when you have completed all your activities.  Putting it on after you are done with all your activities you will get the maximum benefit.

I often get asked when talking about ice, what about hopping into a cold ice bath.  That is an extreme approach, but it can work but no more than 7 minutes.

If you are experiencing pain and you live in Bucks or Montgomery County Pennsylvania and you would like to get an accurate assessment of whether you should be doing heat or ice, click here to schedule a FREE consultation with a Doctor of Physical Therapy.


Shoulder Pain

Ever have pain in your shoulder when lifting overhead?  Shoulder pain with sleeping? Shoulder pain limiting your workouts?  Not sure if your shoulder pain is actually a problem or something that is just going to go away on its own?

Shoulder pain generally starts out as pain that comes and goes.  It may start with pain with lifting overhead but not every time.  Then the pain increases either in intensity or in frequency.  So maybe it hurts everyday now instead of every other day.  Or maybe you can’t reach completely overhead anymore and you have use your other arm to reach high overhead.  This increase in intensity or frequency can occur over a few months, weeks or years.

Then people go to the doctor and a lot of shoulder pain doesn’t show up on X-ray or MRI.  Most people will be told arthritis or some inflammation, given some medication or an injection and sent on their way.

The rotator cuff is often involved in causing some shoulder pain and what most people focus on when they think of shoulder pain.  The rotator cuff which is four muscles that are in your shoulder and some are more likely to tear.  And unfortunately this is the first thing that people think of when they have shoulder pain.  So they will often avoid getting help because they think rotator cuff tear = surgery instead of thinking that by treating their shoulder when they first start feeling pain will actually allow them to avoid a rotator cuff tear and avoid surgery.

Most shoulder pain is not a rotator cuff tear.  And most cuff tears if they are caught early enough are fixable without surgery.  Most doctors won’t operate on small tears and physical therapy has been proven to restore the normal function of the shoulder without pain even with a small tear.

Or it could be a rotator cuff issue without being a tear.  It could be a rotator cuff tendinitis, which is an inflammation of the rotator cuff.  But if the inflammation is left untreated it could lead to a rotator cuff tear.

But how?  How does inflammation and ignoring the pain eventually cause the rotator cuff tear?

One of the big things that we see with shoulder pain is compensation.  Inflammation, rotator cuff tears, bursitis, tendinitis – they all go hand with compensation.

What is compensation?

It is when you move your shoulder differently, shrug your shoulders, change how you use your shoulder in some way that creates knots in the muscle.  These knots cause pain and then pain gets worse over time.

The worst part about compensation is that you don’t even know you are doing it.  Your body is designed to protect itself.  You will learn different ways to move your shoulder so it won’t hurt.  This different movement is small but does create knots and pain in the muscles.

This is why the pain comes and goes.  The knots are worse somedays and the pain is greater and sometimes they are relaxed and the shoulder hurts less.  Eventually they get to a point where they do not relax and the pain becomes constant.

But how does it get inflamed in the first place?

While there are many factors that feed into inflammation one of the biggest causes of inflammation is posture.

Most of the time people are slumped in front of their keyboard or smart phones.  When you are slumped over you wind up closing off your shoulders and actually pinching one of your rotator cuff muscles.  You can watch the video below to get a better understanding of what that looks like and where that occurs.

When you roll your shoulders up back and drop them down there’s a nice space in between the top of your shoulder and your humerus (arm bone).  This will open up the space for the muscle to move and not be pinched in between the 2 bones.

When you pinch this muscle, you can cause inflammation or impingement.  So when you lift overhead you close the space and cause the muscle to be pinched.  Eventually the muscle becomes so inflamed that it fills the entire space so it doesn’t matter if you are sitting in correct posture or not and you get the pain not only when you are moving it but also when you are not using it.

How do you know if you are closing the space besides watching your posture?

One of the things you can do right now is just roll your shoulders up back and drop them down or just try and push your shoulders down.

If you find your shoulders drop down, you are in a compensatory pattern.  You’re in a pattern you probably didn’t even realize.  You most likely didn’t realize you shoulders were up elevated into your ears.  This compensation pattern is going to cause you shoulder pain.

Why don’t injections work?

Many people with shoulder pain get injections to help with the pain.  While the injection will stop the pain sometimes, it won’t cure the problem.  That is why people always need another injection eventually.

After awhile the injections won’t work, they won’t even help with the pain and by that then the amount of time and money you will need to invest to fix that problem has gone up exponentialy.

So what can you do if your shoulder hurts to solve the problem and not just put a band aid on it?  Watch the video below to see the top 3 shoulder exercises.

If you want a doctor of physical therapy to provide you with a free consultation and you live in Bucks or Montgomery County Pennsylvania, then click here and someone will be in touch with you to determine the exact cause of your shoulder pain. 

How do I sit properly

If you Google this topic you can find so many things you can buy to make your desk economically correct but at the end of the day if you’re not going to sit up straight you’re not going to sit up straight.

So you can buy all of the tools and the pillows and everything that you want but it really isn’t going to make a difference if you don’t understand the fundamentals of how you are supposed to sit.

Unless you understand ways that your body has to be positioned you are going to slouch.  You’re going to organize your desk and any pillows you bought so you can slouch.

The following is going to be things that you need to do in order to sit up properly, not things that you need to buy.  These things need to be done before you buy anything.

  1.  You want to make sure that you don’t over correct

Why people struggle with sitting correctly is because they over correct when they sit up straight.  And what I mean by over correct is people will jam their shoulders back and squeeze their shoulder blades together, like they are standing at attention.  Then they try and sit like this all day.

In all reality people are only able to sit like this for a few minutes and then their shoulders start to burn.  And they wind up being really uncomfortable and lose the posture.

But to overcorrect is just as harmful.  So if you try to sit up straight  and it feels like a workout it’s because you’re going too far in the other direction.

2.  The next thing you want to concentrate on is the position of your feet.  They could be one of 2 ways.

First they could be flat on the floor.  Your knees should be below your hips.  So it pulls your pelvis forward.  If your hips are above your knees, you will wind up with your pelvis rolled backward and then you will not be able to have correct posture.

The second option is to sit on the edge of your chair and drop one leg back.  You have one leg at 90 degrees and then one leg dropped back and underneath the chair.

Why does this work, because what this does is this automatically pulls your pelvis into the correct position and it requires no effort because the weight of your leg pulls your back into the correct position.

To see an example of this check out the video below:

Notice how in the video the leg being down doesn’t pull you too forward so you aren’t arching your back and it’s really actually hard to slump because they weight of your leg is pulling you forward.

The thing to remember about posture is that how your legs and your arms are positioned are going to dictate how your back and neck are positioned.  It is impossible to have your arms or your legs in the wrong position and have the ability to sit up straight.

3.  Now in order to position your arms to be correct so you are able to have your neck and back in the proper posture, you are going to roll your shoulders up back and drop them down.

Now again you must be careful with doing this exercise too aggressively and pinning your shoulder back instead of letting them settle in naturally.

After you roll your shoulders up and back, you need to them them drop, literally drop.  Don’t try to slowly and strategically place them down.  Let them drop down.

Now when setting up your computer around this posture, after you roll your shoulders up, back and drop them down you bend your elbows to 90 degrees, bringing your hands to neutral.

Then you position your mouse and keyboard so that your hands can stay in that exact position.  Do NOT adjust your hands or your elbows to accommodate the keyboard or the mouse.  They should come to your hands.

There is no negotiation.  This is the one place where you may need to purchase something for your desk if you are unable to get your mouse and your keyboard close enough.

The one thing about rolling your shoulders up, back and dropping them down is that you will have to do this many, many times throughout the day.  Most people, especially if there is neck or back pain, wind up with their shoulders in their ears.

Do a quick test, tell yourself to push your shoulders down.  If you feel them drop down then you are one of those people that keep their shoulders up towards their ears the majority of the day.

If you have a laptop you have to get either a separate keyboard or a separate monitor.  You are not able to sit in correct posture if you have a laptop and not either a separate keyboard or monitor.

Your monitor should be eye level.  The top of the monitor should be right at the level of your eyes.  Do not try to rationalize in your head that it is okay to have your monitor lower than the height of your eyes.  That you will just lower your eyes and look down and keep your neck in the correct position.

Your neck will follow where your eyes go.  So if your monitor is low and your eyes go down, your neck will go into poor posture eventually.  Which will eventually cause your entire body to slump forward.

And it is important to maintain the elbows at 90 degrees and your mouse right next to your keyboard. If your arms go forward your head, neck and back will follow.  This is what causes slumping even if the most expensive chairs and pillows are bought.

One of the biggest reasons people have back pain is because they don’t sit correctly.  You cannot go to the gym or to therapy and work on your posture and muscles for an hour and make up for 8-12 hours of poor posture.

If you suffer from back pain and would like to come to a free back pain seminar then click here to sign up for our next date!

Back Pain Relief While Driving

While you are travelling, whether it is sitting in a car or an airplane or another confined space that makes it hard to move and increases your back pain, it is can be hard to relieve.

Many people stop traveling or become fearful because they have back issues that flare up because of all the sitting and the agony is just not worth it.  We are going to go over a few things that help relieve that back pain.

The main thing to realize about what we are going to talk and go through is that the things we talk about doing and the tips we give you need to be done before your back starts to hurt.  Right when you sit down in the car or in the airplane, you need to start doing the things we are going to go through.

If you wait for you back to start hurting, it will be too late.  The idea is to do these things throughout the trip to help minimize the onset of the pain.

The first thing that can be done is pelvic tilts.

To start you want to slouch down.  Which yes is counter intuitive when you are talking about the back and posture.  But the slouch is important.

Then after you slouch, you are going to sit up as straight as you can.  You want to make sure that you are not just sitting up straight and slouching forward in your shoulders, but you are going to have make sure that you are using your pelvis.

To make sure that you are using your pelvis and not just your upper back, put your hands on your pelvis.  Make sure you can feel it roll forward and backward.

Make sure you do this process nice and slow.  You don’t have to hold each position for a specific time frame, but you want to go nice and slow through each posture.

To see an example of this and what to do and what not to do, watch the video below.

Currently, it is important to stress the importance of standing.  Taking a break, if you are driving in the car.  Stopping on the side of the road and taking a short break to move around.  Standing up and moving around if you are on a plane is essential, even if it a walk to the bathroom, if you don’t have to use it.

Getting up and moving is extremely important. 

The second thing you can do to hold off on back pain and to relieve it when it comes on is a gentle stretch. 

Start by crossing your ankle over your knee.  Now if you’re driving this is going to prove to be a little bit more difficult but you can do this while stopped at a light or stopped in traffic.

With your ankle resting on your knee sit up nice and straight.  You may feel a stretch just doing that.  If you don’t feel a stretch with just doing that, then as you are sitting up straight, then hinge forward at your hips.  For an example of how to do the stretch, click here.

Then switch legs and put the other ankle over the knee.  Again, not to be done while driving.

Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and doing it 6 times on each side is ideal but because you will be in a car or confined place.  So, hold it if you can.

To make this stretch a little more effective, you can have a tennis ball or a lacrosse ball under the butt cheek.  You won’t be able to move it around but if you sit right on it for a minute or so and then move it to a different position.

You can do this for a few minutes and then take the ball out.  Don’t sit with it for the entire trip.  It can make you sore and eventually cause you more pain.

The final thing you want to do is move your legs as often as possible.  If you’re sitting in the car or you’re sitting in the airplane you want to stretch your legs out or pump your feet.

Bring the leg in and out, bending and straightening the knee slowly.  Then you can point your toes and then flex them.

This is going to allow blood flow to come into the back of the legs, to the hamstring muscles which can get tight, and can contribute to back pain. 

While these things are not going to cure back pain, it will help relieve back pain when you are stuck in a seated position and can’t move.  If any of these exercises cause more pain, then stop immediately and consult your healthcare professional.

If you have questions about your back pain and want to get answers and live in Montgomery or Bucks County Pennsylvania, then click here to sign up for our free back pain workshop. 

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