Lower Leg

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Lower Leg

Shin Splints

These injuries are painful overuse musculotendinous injuries that can be caused by abnormal biomechanics, poor conditioning, and improper training. Pain can manifest in two locations: anterior or posterior. The most common is the anterior, and pain is typically along the front and outside of the lower leg. Typically caused by weakness and tightness between the lower leg. Also, runners who have not run for a while and get back in to it quickly, as well as heavy heel strike upon impact.

Posterior shin splints are painful along inside of the lower leg toward the ankle and caused by the same overuse stresses as the anterior shin splints.

In both instances, weak muscles in the lower leg accompanied by improper footwear and running mechanics may exacerbate the symptoms and possibly lead to stress fractures.  Physical therapy is needed to focus on pain reduction, lower extremity flexibility and strengthening, proper running mechanics, and proper footwear.

Calf Strain

A strain is when a muscle is pushed beyond its normal limits. An over stretching of the muscle fibers cause them to have tearing through it . The rest of the muscle will contract to protect. One of the most common muscle strains in the lower body is through the calf. The calf is made up of 2 muscles, the gastrocnemius and soleus. When they are tight and weak, the muscles will not be able to withstand the pressure put on them while you are running, jumping, and cutting. Treatment will consist of loosening the muscle, breaking down and scar tissue and trigger points. Then progressing to working on flexibility, and strength with proper mechanics.

Stress Fracture

Like any other overuse injuries, stress fractures through the long bone, tibia, of the lower leg can occur quite often with runners and sprinters of all sports. The bones of the lower leg take the force from the foot and ankle, and transfer it up to the rest of the leg. When there is more force put on the bone than the bone can handle, it will break down. Depending on the area of the stress fracture, you may or may not be limited with your weight bearing and/or how much you are able to put pressure through the leg.

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles Tendonitis is a painful inflammation of the Achilles tendon caused by overuse injuries (running, jumping), as well as decreased calf strength and flexibility.  Tenderness and swelling are present over the tendon along with pain with walking, stairs, and running.  Treatment includes ice, anti-inflammatories, flexibility training, and lower extremity strengthening. Foot biomechanics and proper footwear should be addressed as well.

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