Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers
Just-the-Driver

Shin Splints: cause and cure?

Recommended Posts

Just-the-Driver

I am hoping some of your more experienced and well-versed (than I) ballet moms and dads/experts might be able to weigh in on this:

 

My 16-year-old DD attends an arts high school where she dances (ballet mostly, but also modern) about four hours a day, plus rehearsals (during Nuts season, as well as spring in prep for spring performances) on some evenings and weekends. Last summer, she attended a well known SI where she danced a lot more than that, and some of that dance took place on floors that were less-than-ideal. About half way through the SI, she called to tell me her shins were hurting and that she had gone to the teacher, who sent her to the PT people. (As an aside, she said that a number of other girls were at the PT at the same time, complaining of identical symptoms.) She was told to ice, not to jump for a few days, and so on.

 

She came home, returned to school and things seemed fine until 15 performances of Nuts passed by, and the shins were really aching. We took her to a sports medicine doc who sent her for x-rays and it was clear that her shins were inflamed and that, indeed, there was on the x-ray a thickening of the bone at that spot a little below (toward the ankle) the midline of her shin. In fact, you could feel that little bump.

 

The doctor recommended complete rest for a few weeks and PT, until she was pain free. Five weeks of rest and PT have passed. We moved her from a PT that basically adjusted her and used some electrical stimulation stuff on her legs to a PT with dance experience that said she ought not to have been completely inactive for so long, and has her back dancing (not en pointe, but doing barre, etc. with no jumps.) Trouble is, while the shins don't hurt while she is dancing, they do alternately ache (one one day, the other the next) afterwards.

 

Needless to say, this is putting her attendance at the SI she planned to go to in question, but more importantly, it is worrisome.

 

Do any of you guys have experience with this? Is the second PT right, and she ought never to have been "out/resting" completely, even though the sports medicine doctor recommended it? Is dancing in a modified way until she regains her strength Ok, even though she is hurting a bit? Or is it back to complete rest?

 

I feel quite out of my element and don't know who to listen to. Another dance mom mentioned kinesio taping to me, but the "experts" haven't mentioned that so far.

Share this post


Link to post
Victoria Leigh

One of the first things she needs to do is to figure out what is causing the problem. I'm assuming, since she went to a physician, that there were no hairline fractures. But even though the pain while dancing has calmed down, the aching is also a problem and needs to be addressed. She will need to work with her teacher on this, and possibly the doctor again too.

 

There are a number of causes, and it's not easy to determine which one it is. Running or any high impact sport can cause it, as can ballet, but in ballet it would be either something she is doing incorrectly, like rolling, or bad floors. Incorrect alignment and use of rotation can cause rolling, which is where her teacher comes in.

 

As to whether she should or should not have danced during the 5 weeks, I don't know. Most dancers do dance with shin splints, but not jump or do pointe work. Taping can help, if done by someone who knows how to do it.

Share this post


Link to post
Just-the-Driver

Thanks, Miss Leigh. She is working with the new PT (a former dancer) to identify what things, technique-wise, she was doing that put undue pressure/stress on the tendons in the lower legs, and she is having PT twice a week that involves working on this, as well as core work using a Pilates Reformer. (The PT takes place individually and with a group of other injured dancers.)

 

I just feel very "out to sea" about whether to go ahead and pay the quite large amount of money for the SI she planned to attend, which is non refundable.

Share this post


Link to post
Victoria Leigh

Well, there is no way to know for sure, but the SI should be close to 3 months away, right? Unless there are stress fractures, then she should be better well inside of that length of time. Some further X-rays or an MRI might be needed to be sure. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Just-the-Driver

She was x-rayed back in mid January and no stress fractures, though the doctor saw a thickening of the bone in that stressed area. But yes, it's three months away. One thing that disturbed me was that when one teacher heard what SI she was going to, she said "Oh, no, she will definitely get injured there because it's so much dance." I can't say the name of the SI here, but frankly, this place has a more-than-excellent rep for being very into proper technique and so on, and this SI is all about that, and not about performance. My D's goal in choosing this particular place was to work hard on her weaknesses, rather than just going to a much bigger name SI she got in. I am puzzled by the "she will just get injured there" comment, as this is really the first time she has ever been injured at all. It's a situation at which I feel at a bit of a disadvantage, because so many people tell us so many different things.

Share this post


Link to post
LauraR

My dd had an issue with IT band tightness, then shin splints, and now peroneal tendinitis. Years ago she had PT for IT band syndrome and it was nothing but a set of basic exercises to do at home. This time, she had a different ortho group with a holistic approach, and now they are linking the whole leg so to speak. For my dd, it is lateral flexibility in her ankles which causes instability and then she tries to compensate by using other muscles. When she increased her schedule with extra rehearsals, it was just too much. The new PTs are awesome, one is an ex dance student. They really look at her whole leg and how imbalanced she is. I can't believe what a difference a good PT and doc can make. They have a lot of specific exercises for her to do and explain how little things she does around the house incorrectly can loosen up her ankles even more. She's been in a boot for 2 weeks with 2 more weeks to go. I can't offer any suggestions about your SI, but a good PT can help with getting back into shape and summer plans, etc. Finding the root cause has made a world of difference.

Share this post


Link to post
Just-the-Driver

LauraR, thanks so much! Yes, the new PT is working hard with her (and she is working hard at home) on a set of exercises that are relatively simple but are designed to strengthen the whole leg, as well as (hope I have this right!) her SI area, so that her whole body is more in balance. In addition, apparently, even though like many dancers she is hypermobile, her feet are not as flexible as they should be, so they kind of stay firmly planted on the floor when they should be adjusting to her other movements. (The other PTs basically just iced her, did that ultrasound therapy and adjusted her. No movement at all ....)

 

What is worrisome to me is that as soon as she began to dance again (not en pointe, no jumps, etc.) she began to re-experience the soreness in that lower part of the leg, though it is temporary. We are heading back to the sports medicine doctor today, so I am hopeful that we can get a few answers as to how to proceed. Thankfully, the summer stuff is not until the end of June, which is more time to heal. My concern is that she did not dance between mid January and two weeks ago, and it didn't heal completely in that time. (She also hates that the PT insists she wear track shoes/running shoes with support while healing, which means to school every day. But she does it, at least.)

 

Thanks for all your help, everyone, and Laura, let me know how your DD is healing. Best wishes.

Share this post


Link to post
BBBalletMum

Just the Driver, my dd was in a similar situation last August until November. Dd's shins were also swelling from time to time. And dd also had a deadline as we had paid for a trip overseas which included competing in the Genee International Ballet Competition in London and doing a three week ballet school audition tour in Europe. The Physiotherapist she was seeing was great, she works in an office where all the therapists there are from dance backgrounds and they all specialise in physiotherapy for dancers. She gave dd exercises to do and also said no jumping and no pointe for while. Dd seemed to be ok but then after while, one leg would ache one day and then the other leg the next day. Then for a few days no ache. Very frustrating for dd, The physiotherapist obtained opinions and recommentations from other dance physiotherapists, which we took on board. Eventually the Physiotherapist suggested that dd see an acupuncturist. We decided to give this a try. We saw the acupuncturist during a period when dd was in pain. Immediately after the session the pain was less. The next day the pain had gone and the swelling was gone. Dd had another two session before we left for our trip. Dd was able to do all her classes which were very intense before we left for overseas pain free and has never had aches or pain again. This worked for dd but we only considered this option because we together with our family doctor and the dance physiotherarpists discussed this option and it was recommended to try it for dd's situation. I agree with LauraR a good Physiotherarpist and doctor makes all the difference.

Edited by BBBalletMum

Share this post


Link to post
Just-the-Driver

Wow, thanks so much! Turns out my kiddo has the beginnings of a small stress fracture in her right tibia, which was not seen on the initial x-ray but explains why the rest and PT were not working. So right now, it's total rest for between two and four weeks.

Share this post


Link to post
Victoria Leigh

Sorry Abby, but this is a parents forum. You will need to put your question on the YD forum.

Share this post


Link to post
lemlemish

Looking for guidance.

As soon as the school year ended last spring, DD (15) went straight to two SI's this summer and happily danced all day for 7 weeks with no issues. She then took 3 weeks completely off, and then a total of 3-4 drop in classes over the next 2 weeks until her year round program began again. After the school year started back up 2 weeks ago, she began having mild pain in her shins (one more than the other). She reported this to me after the end of the first week and has been icing at night. Is this likely just because I made her take that time off, or is it something serious that I need to have checked out by an ortho? She's only dancing 16 hours per week, so it doesn't seem like too much for her, and the floors are amazing, so I know it's not that.

Share this post


Link to post
Victoria Leigh

So many things it could be, lemlemish, and no way for us to know. (Check out post #2 above.) Too much jumping after being off 3 weeks, incorrect alignment, weight placement, and over or poor use of rotation can cause rolling, which can cause shin splints when jumping, etc., etc. Too much walking or running, especially on cement or without proper shoes. Lack of proper warm up. It goes on. If pain does not stop soon, then definitely see an ortho.

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...