Is it a sport? Sure. A workout? Could be. A hobby or pastime? Nope – not by anyone who actually runs. More accurately, it’s a passion. As trainers, you surely work with those that identify as runners, love to run, even live to run, or athletes that train by running on a regular basis.
So naturally, when clients or players can’t run due to recurring stabbing or burning pain every time their feet hit the ground, it is akin to adding insult to injury. It’s why, when you mention “shin splints” to any experienced runner or athlete you get a knowing look and often a story or two of their own experience with the troubling leg pain.
As you well know, shin splints, or Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, are a result of inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around the tibia – the area of the lower leg from the knee to the foot. You also know that when clients or players experience this issue, they can no longer train properly and don’t perform well.
And while you undoubtedly recommend many exercises and equipment for building strength in leg muscles – lifts, squats, lunges, calf raises – the trouble with tibias is that there has been few exercises and even fewer equipment designed to focus on this critical area.
“Dorsiflexion is the key to rehabbing lower leg injuries,” stated Michael Silva, MS, PT, CSCS, and president of Foundation Performance Sports Medicine.
Dorsiflexion – the backward bending of the foot at the ankle with resistance – not only strengthens the tibialis, but helps to strengthen every muscle group in the lower leg, relieving shin pain and other soreness and sprains. “The dorsiflexion range of motion is the first thing I look to improve, as it is the foundation that you need to build before improving other areas of the body,” Silva continued.
The benefits of dorsiflexion shouldn’t be underestimated. In fact, a recent study of the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at UNC at Chapel Hill concluded that, “conditioning, rehabilitation, and injury prevention programs should focus on … increasing ankle dorsiflexion in hopes to decrease the incidence of these [lower extremity] injuries.” 1
Clients at Michael Silva’s practice are frequently put through resisted dorsiflexion training with ShinTekk . Before trying ShinTekk, Silva used the “old fashioned method” of having one end of a resistance band wrapped around the patient’s toes and the other around equipment or a table leg. He also used an older device that wrapped around the ankle with adjustable Velcro, but that was, according to Silva, “a pain to set up and use.”
“None of the devices or exercises we used were really effective and all required supervision by our physical therapists,” according to Silva. That’s why he selected ShinTekk to leverage the dorsiflexion motion for clients and athletes, and recommends dorsiflexion exercises three to four times per week to build strength and agility safely and effectively.
Get the Celtics’ head strength & conditioning coach Bryan Doo’s training regimen designed exclusively for ShinTekk!
ShinTekk’s founders personally understand the trouble with tibias.
ShinTekk was designed and patented by inventor and avid runner Charlie Gillis, who experienced frequent shin splints and other painful lower leg injuries that would sideline his training and prevent him from improving his time. After exhaustive research, Gillis couldn’t find an effective method or an easy-to-use product that could help. So he hit the drawing board with his friend and business partner, “Tall” Paul Singley, and ShinTekk was created, incorporating feedback from many trainers and physical therapists.
The benefits of dorsiflexion are significant, including assisting in squat depth – one key indicator of leg strength and injury vulnerability. In a recent study on lower leg strength and range of motion in relation to squat depth, researchers reported in the Journal of Human Kinetics that “exercises to increase the ROM [range of motion] of the ankle dorsiflexion, hip flexion, and dorsiflexor strength can be recommended to improve squat performance.“ 2
Silva himself is a user of ShinTekk. Thanks to an old ankle injury, he regularly experiences limited dorsiflexion motion on one side and regularly uses his ShinTekk to “wake up” his tibialis. “My squat becomes easier as soon as I use ShinTekk. I am probably one of your best case studies,” added Silva.
“Using ShinTekk in both a sitting and standing position for reciprocal inhibition exercise can maximize the benefits,” recommends Silva. “Every PT business and training center in the country should have a ShinTekk. Dorsiflexion is critical and ShinTekk is the only device that provides this exercise effectively and consistently.”
With proper attention to building lower leg strength, athletic trainers and coaches can help every passionate runner or athlete enjoy every mile or game without pain or injury. Help your clients overcome the trouble with tibias to reach their peak performance!
1 Mauntel TC, Begalle RL, Cram TR, Frank BS, Hirth CJ, Blackburn T, Padua DA. The effects of lower extremity muscle activation and passive range of motion on single leg squat performance. Sports Medicine Research Laboratory, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.
2 Si-Hyun Kim, Oh-Yun Kwon, Kyue-Nam Park, In-Cheol Jeon, Jong-Hyuck Weon Lower Extremity Strength and the Range of Motion in Relation to Squat Depth; J Hum Kinet. 2015 Mar 29; 45: 59–69. Published online 2015 Apr 7. doi: 10.1515/hukin-2015-0007 PMCID: PMC4415844