Common Dance Injuries: Shin Splints

Dance Injury Prevention

Research has shown that dance injury rates are extremely high (ranging from around 81 to 97 per cent) and that dancers tend to ignore the warning signs of traumas dictated by pain and discomfort. Many dance injuries can be prevented by increasing the level of awareness and knowledge among dancers and teachers. Dance injuries can be quite different from traditional sport injuries, as performing artists typically dance year-round with minimal rest or cross-training. Dancers can prevent injuries by cross-training with appropriate conditioning programs (Yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais, and Alexander Technique), learning correct dance technique and resting any previously injured sites.

Shin Splints

jump picturePretty much everyone has heard of the term shin splints but it is surprising how few actually know what they are! Shin splints is a general term used to describe a painful condition in the shin area of the lower legs. Whilst this condition is formally known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, you’ll find that even your doctor will refer to them as shin splints!  There are many reasons why you may suffer with shin splints but typically they will be caused indirectly by running, jumping or bouncing. This includes all activities that cause a heavy impact of the foot with a hard, unforgiving surface and because of tightness in the feet. The name shin splints is a little deceptive as the condition affects the muscles, tendons and ligaments that attach to the shin bone rather than the bone itself. In the worst case scenario, this can change and the affected muscles can get so tight under tension and stress that it can lead to a stress fracture of the tibia (shin bone).

Tips For Avoiding Shin Splints:

1. Active anatomy plantar fascia spiky ball release                                                                                  

1 active plantar fascia spikyball releaseStand with feet hip-width apart. Place one foot at the time on a spiky ball, try to spread your foot as much as possible allowing the spikes to dig into the all sole of the foot.

2. Toe spreading           

2 toe spreadingStand with feet together and try to lift your toes as much as you can trying to reach a 90 degrees angle.

3. Plantar flexion with crosses and resistance band

3 planta flexion with crossesPlantar flexion is the ankle movement where the toes are pointed towards the floor. To progress in strengthening the shin muscles resistance can be used in the form of a resistance band. Sit on the floor with the resistance band looped around the toes and held at a fixed point on the floor in front. This exercise is great for ankle-foot alignment: the crosses on your ankle and first toe act as a guidance.

4. Heel drop

Heel drop amendStand on your toes on the edge of a step. Shift your weight to your right leg, take your left foot off the step, and lower your right heel down. Return to start, and then repeat with your left leg.

5. Toe curls and toe spreading

5 toe curlsStand with feet hip-width apart at the edge of a towel. With the toes of your left foot, gather the towel and slowly pull it toward you. Return to start and repeat with the other foot. Alternate this exercise with toes spreading in order to stretch feet and toes.

6. One-legged bridges

One-legged bridge amendLie on your back with your arms out to the sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes to lift your hips up off the floor trying to push heels and toes down as much as possible. Extend your left leg out and hold for 30 seconds (work up to 60-second holds), then lower it. Repeat with your other leg.

In the next instalment we will be looking at the treatment of shin splints.

Giovanna Piccolo

Health Administrative Intern

Contributed by Isabel Artigues Cano, Physiotherapist at Trinity Laban Health

One thought on “Common Dance Injuries: Shin Splints

  1. Shin splints are awful. Great exercises, thanks!

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