Shin Splints From A Hard Landing Playing Basketball.

by Steven

My "Shin Splints" appeared almost 4 years ago as a result of a single incident. I was playing basketball, with a 5 foot brick wall behind the goal.

The ball went up behind the wall, so I went to get it. When I returned I jumped off the wall with the ball and attempted to dunk. I missed the goal and landed hard on my feet on the concrete, not bracing myself for impact at all- my legs were totally rigid. The impact hurt quite a lot in my shins.

I took about 2 weeks off until the pain subsided, and I began to casually play ultimate frisbee and tennis again- about twice a week.

Soon after I began to experience pain in my lower inner shins.

Based on information from friends who ran cross country, I was told that this was consistent with "shin splints" and that I should take some time off sports.

I took about 2 or 3 months off, and then resumed casually playing sports again.

Once again, after about 3 weeks of playing sports 2-3 times a week, I began to experience shin pain again. It got worse and worse, and eventually it hurt even while I was not walking or running.

At this point I went to the Sports Medicine department at my university (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). They took an x-ray which found no problems, and sent me to physical therapy.

The physical therapist had me do a number of strengthening exercises for about 2 months. These included calf raises and a number of stretches.

After these 2 months of strengthening and no playing sports, I went out and tried playing tennis again. Once again, after 2-3 weeks the pain came back.

In the past 2 years, I've been in cycles of playing sports (soccer, basketball, tennis) once a week until the pain comes back (maybe a month into it), then taking 2 months off to heal.

Have you ever treated a case that came about from a single shock like this? I'm simply not convinced that normal treatment is working. Any help will be very much appreciated!



Joshua Answers:

Hi Steven.

It's say it's a sure thing that normal treatments aren't working. Obviously they're not.

And they usually don't, depending on what one has going on.

So you technically do have shin splints, which is wear and tear injury of the connective tissue connections of the thick shin muscle sitting closely against the connetive tissue that covers the bone, and includes in the dynamic the sheath of connective tissue wrapping the anterior compartment.

For a runner, it's
the continued wear and tear of conective tissue and tightening muscles that leads to pain.

You had that dynamic going on, but you had a sudden impact. Not like getting hit with a bat, but more like a shearing vertical motion, like tectonic plates during an earthquake.

Muscles FIRED to support the hard landing, they contracted and pulled on their connections, and it stretched and overstretched muscle, connective tissue, and potentially gave you not a big rip or tear, but LOTS of little tiny rips and tears.

It's just as much as injury as anything else, it just looks different.

So you are young, your body is trying to heal this Tendonitis but it's losing to the constant force of the Pain Causing Dynamic.

It's predictable that you could take a year off, then get back to sports, and within a certain short amount of time, the pain would be right back.

Thats just how it works. Sometimes people can get away with rest and resuming activity, but I only see the folks it doesn't work that way for, so I'm a bit biased:)


1. Learn How To Reduce Inflammation

Ice and ice massage a lot for a couple weeks. Start light, then start digging in more and more. You're essentially trying to make the dry crunchy sponge of the tissue into soft, squishy sponge.

2. Slowly start to do that position where you sit on your forlegs, like having japanese tea. I should know the name for that.....

Don't force it, work your way into it over time. Watch tv like that.

3. Regularly just pound on your shins, with fist, forearm, or other solid object. Don't hurt yourself, you're just using the impact to squeeze the sponge, get circulation in and out, and make the tissue mobile. Do this frequently and regularly throughout the day.

If you have the motivation, do that INTENSIVELY and committedly for the next two weeks.

Then you will ease back into sports, and continue to do it to support your body back up the Upward Spiral.

More questions, more answers.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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